FSDC Urges Florida Legislators to Focus on Key Space Priorities

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center
Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

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.

A copy of the letter is below.

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Status of Florida Space Legislation

space_florida_logoTALLAHASSEE, Fla., March 24, 2015 (FSDC PR) – Space Florida’s budget is in play during the ongoing Legislative Session in Tallahassee. The agency typically receives $10 million for its operations, which the House has budgeted, but the Senate offers only $8 million this year. Furthermore, the Senate’s budget language would prohibit any spending on the Shiloh launch site  until after an FAA environmental impact report is issued, vetted by Florida’s environmental agency, and a summary shared with the Cabinet and legislative leadership.

Another Senate amendent seeks to prohibit Space Florida spending for the operation of federal spaceport assets without first being reviewed by the state’s military support organizations to ensure the infrastructure will be available for military purposes. Also, the Senate would take an additional $2 million from Space Florida’s operating budget to fund Cecil Spaceport infrastructure. The House would fund the Cecil investments at the same amount, but without earmarking it from within Space Florida’s budget.

Meanwhile, an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University program for high-school based Aerospace Institutes would receive $3 million in the House budget and $6.5 million in the Senate’s. And a Florida Tech space research institute would receive $2.5 million in the Senate’s budget.

FSDC 2015 FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE SPACE ISSUES
ISSUE/BILLHOUSE STATUSSENATE STATUSCOMMENTS*
Space Florida Ops Budget ($10M)Included in House Trans. and Econ. Development (TED) Appropriations budgetSenate budget includes $4M recurring & $4M nonrecurring, for a total of $8MIncluded in Gov. Scott’s budget request, with $4M of recurring funding and $6M non-recurring. Senate budget seeks a 20% cut to Space Florida’s longtime budget amount.
Space Florida Financing/
Investment Fund
$5 million included in House TED budgetNot included in the Senate budget
Provided in 2014 but not included in Gov. Scott’s 2015 request. May be a legislative priority.
Space Transportation
Infrastructure Funding
“TIP” program funded at $15M in 2014 within FDOT budget allocation. Status unclear for 2015.
Shuttle Landing Facility Transition ($2.5M)Proviso earmark of $2.5M in 2014, and intended for two years by sponsoring legislators. Status unclear for 2015.
Cecil Spaceport Infrastructure ($2 Million)Included in House budgetIncluded in Senate budget, but earmarked from Space Florida’s operating budget.Not included in Gov. Scott’s request, but budgeted by House and Senate, same amount as last year.
Space Industry Tourism Funding ($1.5M)Included in House TED budgetIncluded in Senate budgetIncluded in Gov. Scott’s budget request. Continued funding for coordination with VISIT Florida to support tourism attractions and space tourism flight business.
Florida/Israel Joint Aerospace Development ($1M)Included in House TED budgetIncluded in Senate budgetIncluded in Gov. Scott’s budget request. Continued funding of joint aerospace projects with Space Florida and Israel.
Qualified Defense/Space
Contractor Tax Refund
EDTS package extends application period thru 2017, local govt must pay 20%Incentive program requires statutory change to renew application window for companies to qualify for refunds.
Quick Response Training (QRT) Incentive
Supported in 2014 by Gov. Scott. Status unclear for 2015.
Embry-Riddle high school aerospace academies $3M budgeted
$6.5M budgetedSupported by Gov. Scott in 2014 as a recurring budget item to support/expand network of high school aerospace academies. $3M was approved in 2014.
Florida Tech space research institute
$2.5 million budgetedSimilar to a request from last year ($500K approved) and from 2013 ($2M vetoed).

* Note: Most budget items are subject to the Governor’s line-item veto authority.

Florida Legislative Space Priorities Come Into View as Session Nears

space_florida_logoFebruary 23, 2015 (FSDC PR) — Florida’s 2015 Legislative Session will begin on March 3 and end on May 1 in Tallahassee. The biggest task for elected officials will be to approve a $77 billion spending plan, including millions of dollars for space-related programs. Governor Rick Scott in January revealed his proposed budget, which includes $12.5 million for Space Florida programs.

The Florida Space Development Council (FSDC) has tracked the progress of annual space-focused funding and policy issues in Tallahassee. FSDC is gearing up for the 2015 Session with an updated chart of space-related issues, a chart that is sure to evolve several times over the next two months.

FSDC 2015 FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE SPACE ISSUES
ISSUE/BILLHOUSE STATUSSENATE STATUSCOMMENTS*
Space Florida Ops Budget ($10M)Included in Gov. Scott’s budget request, with $4M of recurring funding and $6M non-recurring.
Space Florida Financing/
Investment Fund

Provided in 2014 but not included in Gov. Scott’s 2015 request. May be a legislative priority.
Space Transportation
Infrastructure Funding
“TIP” program funded at $15M in 2014 within FDOT budget allocation. Status unclear for 2015.
Shuttle Landing Facility Transition ($2.5M)Proviso earmark of $2.5M in 2014, and intended for two years by sponsoring legislators. Status unclear for 2015.
Space Industry Tourism Funding ($1.5M)Included in Gov. Scott’s budget request. Continued funding for coordination with VISIT Florida to support tourism attractions and space tourism flight business.
Florida/Israel Joint Aerospace Development ($1M)Included in Gov. Scott’s budget request. Continued funding of joint aerospace projects with Space Florida and Israel.
Qualified Defense/Space
Contractor Tax Refund
Incentive program requires statutory change to renew application window for companies to qualify for refunds.
Quick Response Training
(QRT) Incentive

Supported in 2014 by Gov. Scott. Status unclear for 2015.
Embry-Riddle high school aerospace academiesSigned by Governor in 2014 as a recurring budget item to
support/expand network of high school aerospace academies.

* Note: Most budget items are subject to the Governor’s line-item veto authority.

Space Florida Pleased With FY 2015 Budget

space_florida_logoTALLAHASSEE, Fla. (June 4, 2014) – The 2014 Florida Legislative session has concluded and Governor Rick Scott has approved dedicated funding for space and aerospace projects in Florida, through Space Florida’s 2014-2015 budget.

The new budget breaks down in the following manner:

  • $10 million for Space Florida general operations and programs  (includes $500,000 for an FIT joint initiative tied to Centers of Excellence research)
  • $5 million for Space Florida financing projects – half of which may be used to assist with commercialization of the former Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at Kennedy Space Center (The latter will only occur if Space Florida and NASA reach a mutual agreement on terms for refurbishment and use of the site. In the absence of such an agreement, this funding may be utilized toward financing further economic expansion activities across the state.)
  • $1.5 million for space tourism marketing (recurring)
  • $1 million to foster collaborative aerospace research, development and commercialization of projects through a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor of the State of Israel (recurring)

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A Final Accounting of Florida Space Spending

space_florida_logoThe good folks at the Florida Space Development Council have provided this handy final report on the fates of space initiatives during the current legislative session. It was a good session overall, with most objectives achieved.

In all, Gov. Rick Scott approved $22 million in space spending, includes funding for Space Florida, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida Institute of Technology, Cecil Field Spaceport, Shuttle Landing Facility, space tourism marketing, and a partnership with Israel. The spending package also includes millions of dollars for infrastructure improvements and economic development incentives for companies relocating or expanding in Florida.

2014 FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE SPACE ISSUES – FINAL 6/5/14
ISSUE/BILLHOUSE
STATUS
SENATE STATUSCOMMENTS
Space Florida Ops Budget ($10 Million)Funded at $14.5M in House/Senate conference budgetFunded at $14.5M in Senate/House conference budgetSigned by governor.
Space Florida Financing/Investment Fund ($7M)Funded at $5M in House/Senate conference budgetFunded at $5M in Senate/House conference budgetSigned by governor. $2M less than in 2013. Funding for financing deals for aerospace expansion projects.
Space Transportation Infrastructure Funding ($20M)$20M is in FDOT annual work program through 2018$20M is in FDOT annual work program through 2018Continued funding within FDOT budget for “TIP” program. $15M minimum is included in FDOT budget allocation.
Shuttle Landing Facility Transition ($2.5M)Allowed in Financing/
Investment Fund line (above)
Allowed in Financing/
Investment Fund line (above)
Proviso earmark. Funding to transition/promote SLF for new commercial and govt users. $2.5M/year for two years suggested.
Cecil Field Spaceport Infrastructure ($2M)Added to Space Florida ops budgetAdded to Space Florida ops budgetProviso addition. Funding for Cecil Field spaceport infrastructure. Added to budget in conference committee.
Space Industry Tourism Funding ($1.5M)Fully funded within Space Florida ops budgetFully funded within Space Florida ops budgetSigned by governor. Recurring budget item to support tourism attractions and space tourism flight business.
Israel Joint Aerospace Development ($1M)Fully funded within Space Florida ops budgetFully funded within Space Florida ops budgetSigned by governor. Continued funding of joint aerospace projects with Space Florida and Israel. Included in Gov’s budget request.
Quick Response Training (QRT) Incentive ($12M)Fully funded in House budget
proposal
Fully funded in Senate budget proposalSigned by governor. Workforce training incentive managed by Workforce Florida. Included in governor’s budget request.
Embry-Riddle high school aerospace academies ($1M)Funded at $3M in House/Senate conference budgetFunded at $3M in House/Senate conference budgetSigned by governor. Recurring budget item to support/expand network of high school aerospace academies in Florida increased to $3 million.
Florida Tech space transportation research ($500K)Added to Space Florida ops budgetAdded to Space Florida ops budgetProviso earmark. New funding request for research on “efficient commercial space transportation system.”
Qualified Targeted Industry (QTI) Incentive Carry-ForwardHB-1209 bill died in committeeSB-1422 bill died in committeeWould have allowed more than one year for QTI recipients (including aerospace firms) to use tax credit allowance, or sell credits to other firms.
Governor’s School for Space, Science & Technology ($500K)Added to budget in conferenceAdded to budget in conferenceVetoed by governor. Continued funding for a space & technology school program for gifted students.

FSDC Applauds State Support for Space Industry

space_florida_logoMay 9, 2014 (FSDC PR) — The Florida Space Development Council (FSDC) applauds the state legislature’s continued support for space industry development and diversification. During the recently concluded annual legislative session in Tallahassee elected officials approved $22.5 million for aerospace programs in 2015, with an additional $20 million available through the Florida Department of Transportation for space transportation infrastructure.

Officials Move Forward With Shuttle Landing Facility Conversion

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

Florida Today reports that officials are moving forward with the conversion of the Shuttle Landing Facility for commercial use:

NASA has applied for a federal permit to dredge and fill 40 acres of wetlands that link to the Indian River Lagoon to pave the way for commercial spacecraft that could launch and land where the space shuttle once touched down.

The application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is an early step toward readying the old shuttle strip for commercial launches, as NASA enters negotiations to have Space Florida take over the shuttle runway.

Space Florida — the agency responsible for promoting aerospace in the Sunshine State — wants to build new infrastructure at the former shuttle landing strip to support future commercial spaceflight endeavors such as XCOR Aerospace and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s planned Stratolaunch Systems. Those efforts deliver suborbital rockets by taking off and landing like planes, rather than via vertical launch pads.

“Space Florida can help finance the infrastructure to run power and utilities and stormwater a long distance out there to accommodate future growth,” said Dale Ketcham, director of strategic alliances for Space Florida.

Read the full story.

Update on Florida Legislative Space Initiatives

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center
Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

The good folks at the Florida Space Development Council have provided this handy update on the fates of space initiatives during the current legislative session. It looks like it’s been a good session overall, with most objectives achieved. All approved measures are subject to veto by Gov. Rick Scott.

2014 FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE SPACE ISSUES – UPDATED 5/4/14
ISSUE/BILLHOUSE
STATUS
SENATE STATUSCOMMENTS
Space Florida Ops Budget ($10 Million)Funded at $14.5M in House/Senate conference budgetFunded at $14.5M in Senate/House conference budgetKeep Space Florida budget at same level as 2013. $4M in recurring base budget, $6M in nonrecurring funds.
Qualified Targeted Industry (QTI) Incentive Carry-ForwardHB-1209 bill died in committeeSB-1422 bill died in committeeAllows more than one year for QTI recipients (including aerospace firms) to use tax credit allowance, or sell credits to other firms.
Space Industry Tourism Funding ($1.5M)Fully funded within Space Florida ops budgetFully funded within Space Florida ops budgetRecurring budget item (from 2013) to support tourism attractions and space tourism flight business. Included in base budget.
Space Florida Financing/Investment Fund ($7M)Funded at $5M in House/Senate conference budgetFunded at $5M in Senate/House conference budget$2M less than in 2013. Funding for financing deals for aerospace
expansion projects. Half can be used for infrastructure projects.
Space Transportation Infrastructure Funding ($20M)$20M is in FDOT annual work program through 2018$20M is in FDOT annual work program through 2018Continued funding within FDOT budget for “TIP” program. $15M minimum is included in FDOT budget allocation.
Israel Joint Aerospace Development ($1M)Fully funded within Space Florida ops budgetFully funded within Space Florida ops budgetContinued funding of joint aerospace projects with Space Florida and Israel. Included in Gov’s budget request.
Shuttle Landing Facility
Transition ($2.5M)
Allowed in Financing/
Investment Fund line (above)
Allowed in Financing/
Investment Fund line (above)
Funding to transition/promote SLF for new commercial and govt users. $2.5M/year for two years suggested by some legislators.
Cecil Field Spaceport Infrastructure ($2M)Added to Space Florida ops budgetAdded to Space Florida ops budgetFunding for Cecil Field spaceport infrastructure. Added to budget in conference committee.
Quick Response Training (QRT) Incentive ($12M)Fully funded in House budget
proposal
Fully funded in Senate budget proposalMaintaining 2013 funding level for this workforce training incentive managed by Workforce Florida. Included in Gov’s budget request.
STEM Workforce Training ($30M)Did not happenDid not happenSTEM scholarships to state colleges and vocational schools. Maybe added as proviso language to budget later in session.
Embry-Riddle high school aerospace academies ($1M)Funded at $3M in House/Senate conference budgetFunded at $3M in House/Senate conference budgetRecurring budget item to support/expand network of high school aerospace academies in Florida.
Florida Tech space transportation research ($500K)Added to Space Florida ops budgetAdded to Space Florida ops budgetNew funding request for research on “efficient commercial space transportation system.” A larger request was vetoed last year.

Swiss Space Systems Plans Zero Gravity Flights From Shuttle Landing Facility

SOAR spaceplane atop an A-300. (Credit: S3)
SOAR spaceplane atop an A-300. (Credit: S3)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, March 14, 2014 (S3 PR) – Today, aerospace company Swiss Space Systems (S3) inaugurates its new U.S. subsidiary, S3 USA Operations (Florida) Inc., at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC). S3 has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Space Florida for future utilization the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) and associated infrastructure for its flight operations, which are slated to begin in 2015 with zero gravity flights. S3 will also evaluate the SLF as a main site for satellite launches beginning in 2018.

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SNC Announces Plans for First Orbital Dream Chaser Flight, Expanded Florida Operations

Dream Chaser (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)
Dream Chaser (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Sparks, Nev., Jan. 23, 2014 Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces that it has confirmed that the first orbital flight of its Dream Chaser® Space System will occur on November 1, 2016.  Dream Chaser will be brought to orbit on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket that is being built in Decatur, Alabama and will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

During SNC’s press event at the John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC), which was carried live on NASA TV, Mark N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of Sierra Nevada Space Systems also unveiled the plans for Dream Chaser flight operations and vehicle processing in Florida through a detailed multi-part presentation.

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Space Florida to Operate KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility

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

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (June 28, 2013) — Today, NASA announced the selection of Space Florida to maintain and operate the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). This historic 15,000 ft. long, 300 ft. wide launch and landing strip hosted 78 Shuttle landings over the past 30 years and provides a unique resource for growing commercial aerospace businesses that may have interest in operating from Florida.

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Report: NASA to Turn Shuttle Landing Facility Over to Space Florida, Paving Way for Lynx Flights

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

The Orlando Sentinel reports that Space Florida is the victor in competition to control the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The privatization of SLF, which was a 3-mile long runway, will pave the way for commercial spaceflights by XCOR’s Lynx and other vehicles.

The preliminary deal, to be announced at KSC on Friday by NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, would give Space Florida control of one of the largest landing strips in the world and one that’s enshrined in space history: Nearly 80 shuttle crews landed there before NASA ended the 30-year program in 2011….

A top executive with the California company XCOR Aerospace, a space-plane builder that has expressed interest in the runway for months, said the preliminary agreement makes it all but certain that it would establish a base at the strip for “participant flights” — beginning as soon as 2015.

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NASA Still Reviewing Options on Shuttle Landing Facility

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

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

NASA is still reviewing options on what to do with the Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF), which has been largely idle since the last space shuttle touched down 18 months ago.

“Regarding your request for the Shuttle Landing Facility, NASA is currently assessing responses to the recently published Request for Information (RFI) seeking to identify entities that may be interested in maintaining and operating this National Asset,” NASA Associate Administrator L. Seth Statler wrote in a Nov. 30 letter to Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. “A decision regarding the disposition of this asset will follow the completion of the RFI response assessment and review of the Space Florida proposal.”

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Stratolaunch Eyes Operations From Kennedy Space Center

Stratolaunch vehicle. (Credit: Stratolaunch)
Stratolaunch vehicle. (Credit: Stratolaunch)

Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch Systems is eying the Kennedy Space Center as its base of operations, beginning with a demonstration flight of the air-launch system from the former Shuttle Landing Facility in 2017, CEO Gary Wentz tells Florida Today:

Stratolaunch, which was publicly introduced in December 2011, hopes to provide lower-cost launches by freeing itself from ground-based range infrastructure and weather restrictions and enabling quicker flight turnarounds.

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Closer Look: XCOR’s Florida Deal Worth More than $5.7 Million

XCOR’s Lynx suborbital vehicle

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Various Florida agencies put up more than $5.7 million in “incentive value and financing” to help lure XCOR to set up a production facility and operational base for its Lynx space plane in the Sunshine State, according to the head of the state’s space development organization.

The funding and incentives are being put up by Space Florida, Brevard Workforce, Enterprise Florida Inc., and the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast, according to a presentation by Space Florida President Frank DiBello during the announcement of the deal last month.

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