WOODBINE, Ga., Oct. 16, 2017 (Spaceport Camden PR) — Major General Robert S. Dickman, the former commander of the 45 Space Wing and Director of the Eastern Range at Cape Canaveral, FL is joining the Spaceport Camden Steering Committee.
An executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and corresponding member of the International Academy of Astronautics, General Dickman also served as vice commander of what is now the 50th Space Wing at Schriever AFB, CO, responsible for operating all Air Force on-orbit satellite systems; Director of Air Force Space Systems in the Pentagon; the first Department of Defense Space Architect; the senior military officer at the National Reconnaissance Office and the Deputy for Military Space in the office of the Undersecretary of the Air Force.
The story mostly features interviews with Virgin Galactic officials outlining their plans to start commercial operations from New Mexico. There will be a series of additional flight tests in Mojave, Calif., and then SpaceShipTwo will move down to Spaceport America for some additional tests before the start of commercial flights. Richard Branson has been prediction ticket holders will start flying in 2018.
In other words, nothing we haven’t been hearing for years and years, albeit with a shiny new set of dates.
Picking up on a theme covered in the third installment, this story details the lengths to which Spaceport America officials have gone to keep secret details of deals they have concluded with tenants.
“If you were to ask them would they want their leases out in the public they would say no,” [New Mexico Spaceport Authority CEO Dan] Hicks said. “…We just don’t want to have additional burdens on them or scrutiny on them.”
That’s a controversial stance in a poor state that has invested more than $220 million in Spaceport America – a state whose law intends that the public be given access to “the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government,” which it calls “an essential function of a representative government.”
There’s a real tension created by the public/private partnership that is the spaceport. On one hand, greater secrecy may help attract companies that demand it, and with them may come good-paying jobs the state needs. On the other hand is the principle that opening the spaceport’s finances builds accountability and public trust that is key to winning the government funding on which the spaceport also depends.
Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, sponsored legislation on behalf of the spaceport earlier this year that would have let the agency keep rent payments, trade secrets and other information secret. One committee approved the bill, but then it died.
These days Papen says she supports withholding company trade secrets from the public. But she no longer backs secrecy for money coming into the spaceport from private companies.
The spaceport authority didn’t always keep agreement terms secret. For example, Virgin Galactic’s development and lease agreements were released years ago without anything being redacted.
The situation is different at the Mojave Air and Space Port, which is a public general aviation airport run by an elected board. Lease agreements are included in board packets that are available to the public.
The fifth and final installment looking at anchor tenant Virgin Galactic’s preparations for space tourism flights from Spaceport America will be published on Friday.
26 proposals were submitted in response to the call
Proposals came from spaceports all over the UK, working with vehicle operators from the UK, other European nations and the US
Multiple proposals have been recommended for further consideration, to ensure any grant funding delivers the best outcome for the UK
SWINDON, England (UKSA PR) — The number of responses for government funding to support UK spaceflight has highlighted a strong interest in the UK commercial market for small satellite launch and sub-orbital flight. The UK Space Agency’s call for grant proposals to establish initial launch capability in the UK has now concluded, with a number of options being recommended for consideration.
At some point in the next six months, the Mojave Air and Space Port could experience something that not happened here in 13 long years: an actual spaceflight.
Richard Branson is predicting that Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity could reach space on a flight test from Mojave by December. For once, his prediction does not appear to be based on unrealistic hopes, the need to reassure customers about delays, or a complete misunderstanding of what is happening on the ground here.
In other words, it’s actually plausible. Whether it will happen on that schedule…that’s another question. Flight test is notoriously unpredictable and very tough on timetables.
The New Mexico Finance Authority agreed to let the spaceport for one year use extra money from the taxes that shoppers pay in two Southern New Mexico counties. But the spaceport wanted the excess tax money in perpetuity, a proposal that the finance authority declined to grant as its chairman raised questions about the facility’s financial strength.
Though some politicians have supported the spaceport’s proposal, others have argued the tax money was only intended to help build the facility, not cover its day-to-day expenses.
Queen Elizabeth II will give an address to Parliament on Wednesday that will include plans for legislation authorizing spaceports and the launching of satellites from the United Kingdom.
Powers planned by the Government aiming to pave the way for commercial space flights in Britain will be included in the Queen’s Speech alongside a raft of investments in transport infrastructure.
The legislation, according to Department for Transport (DfT), will allow the launch of satellites from the UK for the first time, horizontal flights to the edge of space for scientific experiments and the establishment of spaceports in regions across Britain….
But one Bill will concentrate specifically on the future of spaceflight technology in Britain. The DfT believes the new powers – to be outlined on Wednesday – will allow UK companies access to a wide range of new spaceflight, including vertically launched rockets, spaceplanes, satellite operation and spaceports.
China’s surging space program is developing reusable launch vehicles and the construction of equatorial spaceports to better compete on the international market.
The processes under development include parachute-landing and propulsion-landing, said Lu Yu, director of Science and Technology Committee of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) at the Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX 2017).
Reusable lift-body launchers will be developed in three stages — rocket-engine partial reusable vehicle, rocket-engine full reusable vehicle and combined cycle-engine reusable vehicle, said Lu….
According to Lu, a low-cost commercial medium launch vehicle, the Long March-8. is under development, and based on the Long March-8, a new high-orbit medium launch vehicle should be designed to improve the Long March series and enhance competitiveness.
China will also enhance cooperation by renting foreign launch sites to improve launch flexibility, building international launch sites at equatorial regions, and developing sea-based launch platforms with other countries, he said.
George Gov. Nathan Deal has signed legislation in support of a spaceport in Camden County.
The Georgia Space Flight Act, which the General Assembly passed overwhelmingly in March, will give operators of a planned commercial spaceport in Camden County, Ga., the same liability protections that already exist in states competing with Georgia to host commercial rocket launches. House Bill 1 sets a strict legal standard for a plaintiff, likely a space tourist, injured while riding in a spacecraft to collect damages in a lawsuit.
“Commercial space flight is the next great space race,” said Camden County Administrator and Spaceport Camden project leader Steve Howard, who attended Monday’s bill-signing ceremony. “It is a $320 billion industry that offers tens of thousands of good, high-paying jobs. By signing this legislation today, Gov. Deal is sending a message to the global space industry that we are open for business.”
Camden County is working closely with Arizona-based Vector, a small satellite launch company founded by veterans of SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, McDonnell Douglas and Sea Launch. Vector, which is planning to conduct a test launch of a suborbital rocket at Camden as early as this summer, launched its first test rocket last week in California’s Mojave Desert.
“The signing of [House Bill] 1 not only represents the huge strides taken in developing space flight legislation,” said Jim Cantrell, Vector’s co-founder and CEO. “[It] also demonstrates the viability of Spaceport Camden to support Vector’s goal of developing hundreds of launches a year.
ARGYLL, Scotland (Discover Space UK PR) — Leading UK Space science and technology firms QinetiQ and Telespazio VEGA UK have agreed Memorandum’s of Understanding (MoU) to work with Discover Space UK on investigating the potential for a horizontal launch spaceport at the Campbeltown site on the West Coast of Scotland.
Political wrangling over Brexit — Britain’s decision to leave the European Union — has caused a delay in planned commercial spaceport legislation announced by Queen Elizabeth in her speech to Parliament last May.
The government said there was currently no timetable for the introduction of the bill….
Legislation concerning space is reserved to Westminster.
The UK’s government’s Department for Transport (DfT) is responsible for the Modern Transport Bill, which would set regulations for driverless cars as well as allowing UK aerodromes to access space.
It told BBC Scotland that it had been working hard on the bill but parliamentary time had been limited by events such as Brexit and the discussions over triggering Article 50.
A spokeswoman for the DfT said: “The final date for the introduction of the Modern Transport Bill will be announced in due course.
“We are creating the legislative and regulatory framework to allow the development of spaceports in the UK. It will be for the market to decide where the first spaceport will be established.”
Other states seeking to get in on the growing commercial space industry have adopted legislation requiring plaintiffs to prove “gross negligence” in order to collect damages, a tougher standard than “ordinary negligence,” and Georgia should do the same in order to compete for space business, said Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, the bill’s chief sponsor….
The proposed Spaceport Camden could create more than 2,000 jobs in an economically stressed part of Georgia, while at the same time serving as a catalyst for companies involved in the commercial space industry in metro Atlanta.
An environmental impact study spearheaded by the Federal Aviation Administration that began late in 2015 is due to produce a draft report by the end of this year….
Also this week, a committee in the Georgia House of Representatives passed an identical bill offering liability protection for spaceport activities.
During an update of the ongoing study released this week, Stacey Zee, a FAA environmental specialist explained the status of the ongoing work.
“The team has been working hard over the past few months to develop the draft EIS and write reports based on the cultural resource surveys and wetland surveys that we completed in the fall,” Zee said.
A survey has been conducted to determine if there are any jurisdictional wetlands on the site for the proposed spaceport. The Army Corps of Engineers has been tasked with reviewing and verifying the information, she said.
The team will also begin consultations with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to discuss endangered species and potential impacts from rocket launches from the site.
Some good news for supporters of a spaceport in Camden County, Georgia.
The Senate Study Committee on the Camden County spaceport is recommending passage of legislation “that sends a clear signal to the commercial space industry that Georgia is open for business.”
The committee held three meetings before announcing its recommendation Thursday, including one in Camden County, where it heard testimony from supporters and opponents of the Georgia Space Flight Act.
The legislation requires companies in the business of launching rockets in Georgia to train their employees so they understand the risks associated with space flight. Basically, workers in the space flight industry in Georgia will waive the right to sue the companies they work for unless gross negligence can be proven.