Monday, January 17, 2022

Advances in Space Transportation Systems Transforming the Space Coast

Nestled by the sea, overlooking the hustle and bustle of ships arriving and departing Port Canaveral on Florida’s east coast, Dale Ketchum reflects with nostalgia for decades of history.

“I came here and learned to walk on Cocoa Beach three years before NASA was created,” he said in 1958.

Not only can Ketchum trace his life with the US space program, he has witnessed firsthand the transformation of the economies of the communities around NASA’s Kennedy Space Center several times since the 1950s.

“The space program continued to progress, but it was always government-focused,” Ketchum said, adding that the configuration did not bring long-term stability for the local workforce.

Informational signs near Port Canaveral warn motorists that all beach parking in Brevard County is closed on April 4, 2020 in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

“For nearly 50 years, Florida’s Space Coast was the location to launch,” said Brian Baluta of the Economic Development Commission (EDC) of Florida’s Space Coast, but the production of spacecraft was not.

Most of the equipment used in the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs in the late 20th century was shipped to Florida for assembly. When Atlantis touched down on the last shuttle mission in 2011, it marked the end of an era in human spaceflight, with painful economic consequences for the space coast.

“The job losses started happening, and it coincided with the Great Recession,” Baluta said. And it really was a one-two punch for the region. Unemployment at that time in 2011 was 12%. The economy and its outlook (were) was not that strong.”

Baluta’s organization responded by creating a plan to permanently boost the fortunes of the area’s workforce.

“It started with taking the unusual step of reaching out to companies that were most likely to produce a successor to the Space Shuttle,” he said. “At the time, it was called the Crew Exploration Vehicle, and there was no contract for it yet,” he said. “But we reached out to Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing — companies that would likely compete and win for that contract. And we made the unusual pitch, ‘If you win the contract, not just considering launching you from Cape Canaveral. But you should consider assembling your spacecraft here.'”

diversify products

The concept took off.

“Like diversifying a portfolio, if you diversify the sector and your products, you can pass through those lows,” said Lockheed Martin’s Kelly DeFazio. His company won the contract for NASA’s next-generation spacecraft to take humans back to the Moon.

The Crew Exploration Vehicle, now called Orion, is the crew capsule of the upcoming Artemis missions. Rather than build them elsewhere, some of Orion’s key components are put together at Lockheed Martin’s new STAR (Spacecraft, Test, Assembly and Resource) Center near Titusville, Florida, which is home to Space Camp and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. East house.

In this July 13, 2018 file photo, NASA astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenberger talks with Atlanta Space Camp camper Bria Jackson before giving a speech at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala.  Space Camp.

In this July 13, 2018 file photo, NASA astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenberger talks with Atlanta Space Camp camper Bria Jackson before giving a speech at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. Space Camp.

“This particular center here was an 18-month, $20 million investment by Lockheed Martin, and it’s helping to expand the manufacturing footprint for the Space Coast and give us the throughput (output) over time to support lunar missions.” Allows to expand,” said DeFazio, who is also a longtime resident of Florida’s Space Coast. She now oversees work at the Star Center, which includes building the wiring harness and application of the thermal tiles that will protect the Orion capsule.

Amidst all the activity at the Star Center, DeFazio said local enthusiasm is growing.

“I think with the launch of Artemis 1 it will start to become very clear that there is a difference,” DeFazio said. “And you know what? We’re going to take humans further than ever before.”

“When I was growing up with the original seven astronauts, it was really a border town,” Ketchum said. That Wild West Frontier town description is also how it characterizes the current Space Coast, with government contractors and private companies jockeying for real estate and launch access.

“In many ways, we are going back. … The workforce is young, especially with Space X. They are not afraid to fail,” Ketchum said.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a Crew Dragon capsule takes off from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on November 10, 2021.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with a Crew Dragon capsule takes off from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on November 10, 2021.

‘the more the better’

SpaceX, Blue Origin, and the Airbus and One Webb Partnership are just a few of a growing number of companies now that have facilities near the rocket launch pads at Kennedy Space Center, thanks to the efforts of organizations such as EDC and Space Florida. , where Ketchum now serves as vice president.

“We just made an announcement this week that a small launch company called Astra is coming here to build small rockets for small satellites, a huge new component of the space industry,” Ketchum said. “But we also have Firefly, Relativity coming – and others will come after that.”

As much as Merger said, Ketchum, who believes the flurry of activity not only helps the local economy, but keeps the United States globally competitive as a new international space race.

China leads the race

“The Chinese will put more rockets into orbit than us because the Chinese are competitive, very smart, very capable, very well resourced and very committed. And they are the major competitors in space,” Ketchum said.

FILE - NASA Administrator Bill Nelson speaks during a news conference at NASA Headquarters on June 2, 2021 in Washington.

FILE – NASA Administrator Bill Nelson speaks during a news conference at NASA Headquarters on June 2, 2021 in Washington.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson agrees.

During a US House of Representatives appropriations hearing held remotely last year, he signaled alarm over recent successes in the Chinese space program, including landing a rover on the surface of Mars, and worried that his ambitions would be in the red. are not limited to the planet.

“They want to send three big landers to the south pole of the Moon,” Nelson told members of Congress. “And here’s the water. And we’re still a year or two away from a very small lander going there.”

Nelson wants US lawmakers to increase NASA funding so the agency can complete the Artemis program, which plans to return humans, including the first woman to the Moon, with Mars as a final destination.

“I think it’s adding a new element to whether or not we want to get serious and do a lot of activity to get humans back on the surface of the Moon,” he said.

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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