April 17, 2011

Space Florida Balks at Scott’s Funding Plan (Source: Florida Today)
A plan to consolidate the budgets of Florida’s economic development agencies and give greater funding authority to Gov. Rick Scott has Frank DiNBello worried about Space Florida's ability to lure business and jobs to Florida. He hopes to preserve the autonomous approval process that allows Space Florida’s board to move quickly when offering incentives to space industry players. “If it becomes a long, drawn out bureaucratic process, it hurts us in the market,” DiBello said. “I would like the board of Space Florida to be the final authority.”

As Brevard County prepares for the final wave Shuttle layoffs, Space Florida’s job development efforts will be critical. Scott’s press secretary said the governor is an industry backer. “The governor fully supports the development of the space industry,” Lane Wright said. Scott announced his plan in January and it drew immediate applause from major business groups. Supporters say a centralized agency could function more efficiently to attract industry and jobs and could offer bigger financial packages to make Florida more competitive.

Others suggest it might not be the best approach. “I’m not sure it’s a great idea,” University of Central Florida political scientist Aubrey Jewett said. “What he’s asking to do is change the structure of government based on his particular skill set.” (4/17)

Spaceport 'Astronauts' Could Boost Local Tourism (Source: El Defensor Chieftan)
More than 400 people have already plunked down a $20,000 deposit for a $200,000 ticket into space on Virgin Galactic's VSS Enterprise, set to launch from Spaceport America in nearby Sierra County. The flights will take less than two hours, she said, and there could be as many as three flights per day, each one carrying six passengers.

Robyn Harrison, tourism council president, did the math: that's $1.2 million every time the Enterprise launches, and potentially $3.6 million per day. The would-be astronauts are people who can afford to spend close to a quarter of a million dollars on a two-hour ride, and they'll likely bring family and friends to witness the event. Not only that, the launches themselves could draw hundred of spectators, who will watch the Enterprise take off and land, and then look around for something else to do. (4/17)

Rocket Man (Source: Arabian Business)
It is summer, 1957. In the mountains near Zahle, a town in lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, a small boy is camping outside, lying on his back and staring at the stars. Later that year, the same boy overhears on his family’s portable Zenith radio the eerie metronomic pulse being sent out by Sputnik 1, the first human-made satellite, which shocked the world when the Soviet Union launched it that October.

“I was always fascinated looking at the stars,” Charles Elachi, who heads up the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), tells me. “I was always wondering if there were other people on some of those planets looking back at us. And when I heard Sputnik, I remember saying to myself: wow, you can really put things in space - that would be cool to work on. But I never knew at that age that I would end up where I am now.” (4/17)

Ten Enduring Myths About the U.S. Space Program (Source: Smithsonian)
1. “The U.S. space program enjoyed broad, enthusiastic support during the race to land a man on the Moon.” -- Throughout the 1960s, public opinion polls indicated that 45 to 60 percent of Americans felt that the government was spending too much money on space exploration. Even after Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind,” only a lukewarm 53 percent of the public believed that the historic event had been worth the cost.

2. “The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is part of NASA.” -- The SETI Institute is a private, nonprofit organization consisting of three research centers. The program is not part of NASA; nor is there a government National SETI Agency. Click here to read the article. (4/17)

Human Mission to Mars by 2035: Is it Possible? (Source: Economic Times)
If you are to believe the second man to land on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, we ought to start packing for Mars. Aldrin-who landed on the moon just 15 minutes after Neil Armstrong-says the US government should soon start sending the first bunch of human settlers to Phobos, Mars' inner moon. Eventually, they could get to the Red Planet itself by as soon as 2035.

President Barack Obama echoed Aldrin's thoughts last year at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, when he famously told the world: "By the mid 2030s, I believe we can send humans to the orbit of Mars and return them safely to Earth ." Aldrin's dream points to the next wave of space exploration, focused not on the moon but on Mars. "The moon is no longer our primary destination." said a NASA spokesperson. Last year, NASA was directed to focus on human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit...reach a near-Earth object by 2025 and then fly by Mars in the mid-2030s," (4/17)

Tumlinson: Forget Past and Focus on the Future of Space (Source: Houston Chronicle)
The first word uttered from another world was "Houston" as Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969. Forty years later, this proud legacy of Texas space leadership is about to be squandered. As the post-Apollo space era ends with the winding down of the shuttle program, Johnson Space Center's budget may drop by around $1 billion. This means losing thousands of high-end, high-education jobs and a ripple effect tearing through the area that is worse than a flood or hurricane.

Why? Because when nature knocks things down they get rebuilt by people and companies who inject new money and life into the local economy. In this case, due to a lack of vision and foresight on the part of some who represent Texas and Houston, these jobs, people and skills will simply go away - many to other states.

This could not only be avoided, it could be a huge opportunity for Houston if our representatives in Congress would focus more on creating the future rather than defending the past. The true legacy of Apollo is driving a revolution in space, one that may well pass us by if we do not act quickly and decisively. (4/17)

South Jersey Skies: The Space Junk Problem (Source: NJ.com)
We've been launching satellites into Earth orbit for more than 50 years. Some of these come down each year, but as our space program has grown, so has the satellite population. NASA keeps track of everything larger than about four inches, and its list contains more than 22,000 entries. The total mass of artificial satellites now exceeds 5,000 tons. But most of that is debris. There are only about 1,000 active, working satellites. The rest of the population is junk. (4/17)

Complex Has Plans for Atlantis (Source: Florida Plans)
Our community celebrated a historic victory last week, being chosen along with Los Angeles and Washington as home to one of the three space-flown shuttles in their retirement. Perhaps nobody is celebrating more than William Moore, the man in charge of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, who led the winning proposal and is now charged with making it happen. I visited with a slightly sleepy Moore on Thursday, less than 24 whirlwind hours after NASA awarded shuttle Atlantis to Brevard County. Click here. (4/17)

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