DiBello: Florida Faces Possible Shortage of Aerospace Talent

Space Florida President Frank DiBello
Space Florida President Frank DiBello

Florida’s success in drawing companies such as Blue Origin, Northrop Grumman and OneWeb to the Space Coast could create a shortage of aerospace talent in the future, Space Florida CEO Frank DiBello said on Tuesday.

“I would even go so far as to say that this is the area I am most worried about for our aerospace future,” DiBello told several hundred guests at a National Space Club Florida Committee meeting in Cape Canaveral….

The Space Coast, anchored by the civil and military and space programs at Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, has long been a hub for skilled aerospace workers.

And new companies had a ready supply to draw from after the retirement of NASA’s shuttle program in 2011 resulted in roughly 8,000 layoffs of contractors.

But looking ahead, DiBello said Florida does not produce enough aerospace-related degrees and lags a dozen states in attracting federal funding for space-related research, metrics that need to improve.

A source on the Space Coast recently told Parabolic Arc that NASA’s exploration ground system program, which is developing supporting infrastructure for the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft, has been impacted by workers taking positions with Blue Origin, which is building a rocket production facility nearby and modifying a launch pad at Cape Canaveral.
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Space Florida Seeks to Upgrade Shuttle Landing Facility

The Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida. (Credit: NASA)

Space Florida is looking update the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Growing commercial activity at Kennedy Space Center is prompting Space Florida to seek contractors to provide more fuel and new air-traffic-control facilities at the runway known as the Shuttle Landing Facility.

The need for more fuel at the runway is prompted by more cargo flights and the potential for launching more satellites from the wings of jets.

On Wednesday, Space Florida released a request for proposals from potential fuel suppliers, calling for at least two fueling trucks that carry 5,000 gallons of Jet-A fuel, or a similar capacity.

Space Florida owns the former shuttle landing strip, and is preparing it to serve launch companies operating in the area.

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Florida Venture Forum to Host 10th Annual Florida Early Stage Capital Conference

Early Stage Companies can compete for up to $150,000 in CASH Prize Money Provided by Space Florida

Orlando, FL (March 1, 2017) –The Florida Venture Forum is calling for early stage companies to apply to present at the 2017 Florida Early Stage Capital Conference at Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, on May 19, 2017.

The Conference, now in its tenth year, is one of the largest gatherings of angel and early stage investors in the Southeast, and features panel discussions, speakers, and presentations by some of Florida’s fastest growing private companies.

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Space Florida, Israel Innovation Authority Announce Record Response to Call for Projects

EXPLORATION PARK, Fla., March 2, 2017 (Space Florida PR) – Space Florida, and the Israel Innovation Authority (formerly known as the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Economy and MATIMOP), recently announced a record response to the Fourth Joint Call for research and development projects, tied to the Space Florida-Israel Innovation Partnership Program.

In the recent Fourth Call Joint Call for Projects, an astounding 24 joint responses were received in both Florida and Israel, which is twice the number of applications received in the Third Joint Call in February 2016.

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Space Florida Accepting Applications for Space Transportation Infrastructure Projects

CAPE CANAVERAL SPACEPORT, Fla. (Space Florida PR)  – Space Florida has announced its Call for Projects to solicit proposals to continue the development of space transportation infrastructure that supports Space Florida’s legislative intent and Florida spaceport territory master plans.

Each year, Space Florida issues this Call for Projects to allow the aerospace industry the opportunity to submit projects for consideration into the subsequent year’s Work Program and Spaceport Improvement Program. This year, Space Florida will be accepting Space Transportation Infrastructure Matching Fund applications for fiscal years (FY) 2019 to 2023.

Applications for FY19-23 and updates to previously submitted FY18 projects are due Monday, April 17, 2017. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis for future fiscal years.

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Space Life Sciences Lab Sends Experiments to ISS

Launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 CRS-10 mission on Feb. 19, 2017. (Credit: SpaceX)

EXPLORATION PARK, Fla. (Space Florida PR) — Space Florida is proud to congratulate SpaceX for the successful docking of the CRS-10 mission with the ISS and to congratulate the 4 different experiments on board the Dragon capsule which were processed in the Space Life Sciences Lab (SLSL) in Exploration Park, Florida.

Those experiments were as follows:

  • Customer: CASIS/MERCK
    PI: Paul Reichert
    Protein crystal growth – pharmaceutical research (chemotherapy)
  • Customer: Edith Stein High School (agricultural high school in Ravensburg, Germany)
    PI: Maria Koch, Raphael Schilling and David Geray, German Students
    Vegetative propagation of plants on orbit
  • Customer: Intrinsyx Tech
    PI: John Freeman
    Designed to study enhanced plant growth of strong plants for astronauts on long duration Space missions
  • Customer: Space Tango
    PI: Twyman Clements

Another commercial opportunity to begin to utilize microgravity for application on Earth. The use of the SLSL for the processing of payloads for experiments and commercial operations will only grow as the flight cadence at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport increases in the years ahead.

“We’re excited to see the early investments by the State of Florida in payload processing for science and industry become a reality here at the Cape.” said Space Florida CEO Frank DiBello.

Orbital Access Limited to Establish US Operations Hub at Cape Canaveral Spaceport

WASHINGTON, DC (Orbital Access PR) — Orbital Access Limited and Space Florida announced today that they have signed a strategic memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will see the UK space services operator establish a principal operating base at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. Orbital Access Limited is leading the development of a next generation small satellite launch system with support from the UK Space Agency to complement a portfolio of non-launch related space services to be delivered at horizontal launch spaceports, such as the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.

Announcing the signing Stuart McIntyre, CEO of Orbital Access said: “We are delighted to partner with Space Florida and the Cape Canaveral Spaceport to establish a primary service hub for the US market at the iconic heart of the Space industry in Florida. With the commercial market for small payload launch growing rapidly, the new breed of horizontal launch spaceports will become a key component in providing the access to space needed. These spaceports will become a hub for space related services ranging from simple industrial communications flights, micro gravity parabolic flight services, specialist astronaut conditioning, suborbital flying and, ultimately, small payload launch operations.”

Speaking on behalf of Space Florida, Frank DiBello said “We are delighted to welcome Orbital Access Limited to Florida as a major broad capability global operator to locate at Space Florida’s Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF). Commercial spaceports are becoming the go-to place for the wide range of space related services and activities, and access to low Earth orbit. As additional facilities develop around the world we are setting the operational template in Florida that will place us at the heart of the global spaceport system that is emerging.”

“Their selection of Florida for their payload services business reflects the deep space and aerospace industry heritage that exists in Florida and we look forward to the development of their wide range of services.”

Orbital Access Limited intends to base a fleet specialist aircraft at the SLF which will provide non-scheduled passenger services, parabolic micro gravity flight services and specialist charters. Additional services, such as simulator training and spaceflight participant conditioning, will be provided in conjunction with specialist providers in the USA. Horizontal take-off small payload launch services will be added once the development program, currently underway in the United Kingdom, is complete and operational permissions have been obtained. The development program, the Future UK Small Payload Launcher (FSPLUK) project, is being taken forward by Orbital Access Limited with an industrial team of tier 1 UK aerospace and academic partners.

Space Florida Names FedEx Preferred Logistics Provider

Credit: FedEx

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (SpaceX PR) —Space Florida today announced that it has named FedEx as its preferred provider of logistics, transportation and cargo related services.  Space Florida maintains and operates the historic launch and landing strip—15,000 feet long and 300 feet wide—at the Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center (KSC).

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Proposed Florida Budget Includes $17 Million for Blue Origin Launch Complex

Brig. Gen. Steven Garland, 14th Air Force vice commander, left, provides remarks at a Blue Origin media event held at Space Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, Sept 15, 2015. (Credit: USAF/Matthew Jurgens)

Billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin would receive $17 million in assistance from Florida taxpayers to renovate a dormant Cape Canaveral launch complex under Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed 2017-18 budget.

The governor’s office said the budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year starting July 1 includes $34 million for launch complex improvements that “will help attract more commercial activity to the area.”

Space Florida confirmed the total includes $17 million from the Florida Department of Transportation to help prepare Launch Complex 36, a state-run pad last used in 2005, into a site for Blue Origin’s giant New Glenn orbital rockets. The company also plans to build an engine test stand, incorporating the adjacent Launch Complex 11.

Blue Origin, the private space firm started by Amazon.com’s billionaire founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, will match the state’s investment, resulting in the $34 million budget figure cited by the state.

Bezos and Scott in September 2015 visited Launch Complex 36 to announce Blue Origin’s plans to build and launch rockets locally.

“The pad has stood silent for more than 10 years — too long,” Bezos said then. “We can’t wait to fix that.”

Read the full story.

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Space Florida Approves Terms of Deal With Made in Space

space_florida_logoThe Space Florida Board of Directors has approved a $3.5 million deal with Made in Space to finance the manufacturing of advanced fiber optic cable aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The board gave approval earlier this month to changes in the terms of Project ICE, which members had originally approved in January. Florida Today reports that Made in Space has confirmed it is the partner in the deal.

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Space Florida Approves Minotaur Launches From Florida

minotaur4
Minotaur IV booster

The Space Florida Board of Directors last week approved a plan to allow Orbital ATK to use Launch Complex 46 (SLC-46) at Cape Canaveral for Minotaur launches. The board instructed staff members to complete negotiations and enter into a contract with the Virginia-based company.

The board’s approval clears the way for Orbital ATK to launch the U.S. Air Force’s Office of Operationally Responsive Space’s ORS-5 SensorSat spacecraft in mid-2017.

SensorSat will be launched aboard a Minotaur IV rocket under a $23.6 million contract.

“The risks associated with operating the site and launching the vehicle are born by [Orbital ATK],” according to the board’s meeting agenda. “The Company will pay a reimbursement fee to Space Florida for all fees and costs incurred by Space Florida associated with the use of the Premises.”

SLC-46 increases the locations where Minotaur rockets can be launched to four. Orbital ATK has launch facilities for the booster in Virginia, California and Alaska.

Space Florida is eyeing SLC-46 for other launches, including or a test of the Orion abort system in 2019.

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Space Florida to Host Cape Canaveral Spaceport Master Plan Workshop on Wednesday

space_florida_logoCAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Space Florida PR) Today, Space Florida announced a public workshop to request comment on its Cape Canaveral Spaceport Master Plan – Update 2016.

The plan, regularly updated to address industry developments, provides information to guide Space Florida in its efforts to modernize and expand infrastructure at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. AECOM is leading the development of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport Master Plan – Update 2016 for Space Florida.

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Space Florida Pleads With Trump to Continuing Funding Major NASA Programs

Space Florida President Frank DiBello
Space Florida President Frank DiBello

Statement from Space Florida President Frank DiBello Regarding President-Elect Donald Trump

“On behalf of Space Florida, I welcome President-Elect Trump’s incoming administration and look forward to continuing our positive relationship with NASA. I have been encouraged by what I have heard of President-Elect Donald Trump’s plans for our national space program. As the incoming administration develops policies and priorities for the upcoming term, Space Florida  encourages President-Elect Trump’s incoming administration to sustain the balance of programs of record, including NASA’s Commercial Cargo and Crew programs, Space Launch System (SLS), Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), and affiliated Ground Systems Development and Operations.

Collectively, these programs sustain the Cape Canaveral Spaceport in Florida, this nation’s premier gateway to a great future in space.”
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Space Florida Seeks Another $5 Million for SpaceX Pad Upgrades

Pad 39A Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis
Pad 39A Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis

Well, this is interesting. Space Florida is seeking $5 million from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to help SpaceX pay for upgrades to Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

The move will be discussed during an online-only board meeting next Wednesday.

According to meeting documents, “project match funding” from FDOT would be used for “infrastructure improvements by SpaceX.”

The move would authorize Space Florida to enter into an agreement with billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s space company.

Specifically, the meeting agenda says the $5 million is needed to help fund with Phase 2 of improvements to Pad 39A. It’s not clear exactly what these upgrades entail.

The timing of this move is interesting. It’s being done at a special meeting, which means the matter came up after — or wasn’t ready to be dealt with in time for —  the last board meeting held only three weeks ago on Sept. 28.  Nor does it seem the matter can wait until the board’s next regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 29.

The apparent urgency of the request might well be related to the destruction of a Falcon 9 on Pad 40 last month. The launch complex was seriously damaged by the fire and explosion. It will be out of commission for an unknown number of months.

SpaceX officials say they could use Pad 39A as early as November to launch Falcon 9 rockets while the other launch complex is being repaired. The launcher’s return to flight depends upon an ongoing investigation into why a Falcon 9 caught fire and exploded while it was being fueled on Sept. 1.

SpaceX’s is leasing Pad 39A from NASA and has renovated to handle Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches. The Falcon 9 launches will include Crew Dragon flights to the International Space Station.

Space Florida Seeking to Bring Solid Fuel Manufacturer to State

Space FloridaSpace Florida is pursuing an agreement under which a manufacturer of small solid rocket motor propellant would set up a U.S. operations at the Titusville-Cocoa Airport (TICO).

The initiative, code named Project Swanson, would bring approximately 80 jobs with an average wage of $83,000 to the state, according to the agenda for the Space Florida Board of Directors meeting on Sept. 28.

“The company is seeking third party financing for the construction of facilities and purchase of equipment,” the agenda states. “Total capital investment is estimated not to exceed $4,000,000.”

Space Florida is seeking approval from the board to negotiate long-termagreements with the company to secure land at TICO, construct and lease facilities, and acquire and lease equipment.

Space Florida is also requesting approval to secure bank financing on behalf of the unnamed company. The board will approved specific terms of the agreements at a future meeting.

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