The draft environmental assessment for SpaceX’s proposed expansion at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) also revealed that Elon Musk’s rocket company plans to most of more than 4,000 satellites of its planned Starlink constellation from Cape Canaveral.
That will guarantee a busy schedule for SpaceX’s Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at KSC and LC-40 at the adjoining Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). LC-39A can accommodate Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters while LC-40 is configured for the Falcon 9.
Space Florida has approved an $1.5 million loan to a lunar landing company and $18.9 million in upgrades and infrastructure improvements to support Blue Origin, SpaceX and an unidentified horizontal launch and landing venture, Florida Todayreports.
At a board meeting Wednesday in Tampa, the state agency responsible for aerospace economic development approved loaning $1.5 million to a company identified only by the code name Project Forge, described as a contender to win contracts under a NASA program developing lunar landers.
Space Florida also committed to spending up to $1 million to upgrade utilities at Kennedy Space Center’s former space shuttle runway to support test flights — as soon as early 2019 — by another unidentified company, referred to as Project Pine.
“This is the first real space user for horizontal launch and landing,” board chairman Bill Dymond said of the three-mile runway that Space Florida is trying to commercialize after the shuttle’s 2011 retirement. “I think that’s very exciting.”
In other business Wednesday, Space Florida’s board approved committing up to $14.5 million to SpaceX’s planned expansion at KSC, and up to $3.4 million for a new engine-related facility that Blue Origin will add to its New Glenn rocket manufacturing site at KSC’s Exploration Park.
CAPE CANAVERAL SPACEPORT (August 17, 2017) – On August 25, Orbital ATK is scheduled to launch its Minotaur 4 rocket from Space Florida’s Space Launch Complex (SLC) 46 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The launch of the ORS 5 mission for the US Air Force (USAF), will be the first launch from the pad since 1999, as well as the first since Space Florida renovated the complex.
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.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — The portfolio of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will soon include large-scale satellite manufacturing following Thursday’s groundbreaking for a 150,000-square foot spacecraft factory in the center’s Exploration Park.
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).
Flight Demonstration of Novel Atmospheric Satellite Concept NASA Innovative Advance Concepts Phase II Award
William Engblom Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
The Dual-Aircraft Platform (DAP) is a novel concept for achieving a low-cost atmospheric satellite in the lower stratosphere which utilizes a combination of wind and solar energy capture. DAP consists of two glider-like unmanned aircraft connected via a thin, ultra-strong cable. Long duration flight simulations have shown the platform could literally sail without propulsion, using levels of wind shear persistently found near 60,000-ft, and substantially increase the energy available for useful payload operations.
The central objective of the proposed Phase II effort is to perform autonomous proof-of-concept flight demonstrations of the DAP concept using a small-scale prototype at low altitude. Related objectives are develop specific flight maneuvers and mechanisms required for station keeping, and validate the autonomous guidance and control software.
Flight demonstrations of the sailing mode of operation, as well as all other required maneuvers for stratospheric station keeping, will be conducted using the atmospheric onshore wind shear produced at low altitudes (< 500 feet) at Kennedy Space Center’s (KSC) Shuttle Landing Facility. Optimal dates/times for flight testing will be selected based on an historical weather assessment. Off-the shelf aircraft will be modified for DAP operation. The aircraft will be remotely controlled by KSC pilots during the first year, and will gradually shift towards complete autonomous flight control in the second year. Flight software will be developed and validated within the hardware-in-the-loop DAP flight simulator at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Atmospheric satellites represent a long-standing, grand challenge to the aeronautics community, and have enormous potential societal and economic impact. Such airborne platforms are expected to diversify and expand surveillance capabilities (e.g., NASA’s earth science missions) and communications bandwidth and availability (e.g., for underserved remote areas of the US, emergency communications), at a fraction of the cost of orbital satellite networks. Successful proof-of-concept DAP flight demonstrations are expected to lead to commercial investment to build a large scale prototype.
Video Caption: When a FedEx 757 landed at Kennedy Space Center’s three-mile shuttle runway, it accomplished something no other commercial aircraft has done before. It became the first commercial carrier to land on the strip, marking the start of a new collaboration between FedEx and the space industry.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — A new agreement marks another step in the transformation of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to a multi-user spaceport. NASA’s historic Shuttle Landing Facility, the site of one of the longest runways in the world, has a new operator.
“Our journey to Mars goes straight through Florida, and this agreement helps amplify the many ways that our critical Kennedy Space Center can support the next generation of human spaceflight,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
The Space Florida Board of Directors unanimously approved an agreement with NASA today to take over operations of the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center.
Under the agreement, the state will take over responsibility for the runway’s annual operating and maintenance costs for 30 years, with extensions possible as tenants sign leases and make long-term investments in infrastructure.
Space Florida plans to spend about $5 million over the next two years to upgrade runway infrastructure that NASA hasn’t needed much since the shuttle program retired in 2011.
“This is a game-changer,” said Bill Dymond, chairman of Space Florida’s board. “This facility really is about the future, and horizontal launch and landing I think will uniquely position us to really be a leader in the future.”
The Space Florida board of directors, during a public meeting in Tampa, approved multiple requests for the agency to proceed with proprietary partnerships and project finance deals. The board also decided to delay approval of a deal to transfer control of NASA’s Shuttle Landing Facility to the state, until stakeholders in Tallahassee could be fully briefed and the outcome of state budget requests is finalized, probably within 10 days.
Project Panther (known to be Blue Origin) is approved for conduit debt financing for facilities and equipment at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, including launch infrastructure and a manufacturing operation at the state-run Exploration Park on KSC property. This project, which could employ about 200, recently received a separate inducement of $8 million from the county government.
Project Nightfall (Generation Orbit, Firefly or Rocket Lab?) is approved for a $1 million financing deal, convertible to company stock and collateralized by a 15-year lien on the company’s equipment and facilities. This will lead to Florida-based test launches of a micro-satellite launch vehicle (~200 lbs to LEO), potential Florida-based manufacturing, and Florida-based launch operations.
Space Florida has worked out terms with NASA to take over the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA Kennedy Space Center:
Space Florida anticipates spending $200,000 a month over the first two years to operate and develop the site, or nearly $5 million, according to a summary of the deal included in board meeting materials.
The state would assume responsibility to operate and maintain the runway for 30 years with options for extensions, according to the materials.
Space Florida has been negotiating with NASA for nearly two years to transfer KSC’s three-mile runway, where it hopes to attract companies designing spacecraft that take off and land horizontally like aircraft.
Space Florida’s board postponed a vote on the deal on Wednesday due to uncertainty over the state budget. Legislators are schedule to go back into session on Monday to deal with unresolved issues.
FSDC PR — The Florida Space Development Council has urged elected officials to provide more support to the space industry during the ongoing Florida Legislative Session. FSDC President Gabriel Rothblatt asked Senate and House leaders to take steps to diversify the state’s involvement in space research and technology development; continue financing programs for space industry growth; fund conversion of the Shuttle Landing Facility for new programs; establish a high school space education academy; and fund a demonstration program for space tourism and point-to-point spaceflight.
The five issues were prioritized by FSDC’s membership through an online survey. They were conveyed in letters to the Senate President, House Speaker, and appropriation subcommittee chairs.