Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kosmas, Posey propose commercial spaceflight "Centers of Excellence"

Space Coast congressional representatives Suzanne Kosmas and Bill Posey have proposed legislation that would create NASA "Centers of Excellence" at universities to support development of the commercial spaceflight industry.

The program, supported by Space Florida, would be modeled after a group of eight Federal Aviation Administration centers funded by more than $370 million in federal, industry, university and local government funds, according to Kosmas' office.

In a press release, Kosmas and Posey suggest the centers could help reduce the local economic impact of the gap in human spaceflight after NASA's planned retirement of the space shuttle as early as next year.

"With the looming spaceflight gap, it is clear that the commercial spaceflight industry must play a significant role in maintaining our direct access to space and in providing high-quality job opportunities in Central Florida," said Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach.

"Maintaining the Space Coast's leadership in space means incorporating a host of approaches and initiatives," adds Posey, R-Rockledge. "This is yet one more among many that will be needed to keep us moving forward and will help foster the development of commercial space technology."

But details about how many jobs the centers might create, the cost to run them, how many centers there would be and where they would be located are unknown.

Kosmas suggests Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, which is located in her district(FL-24), as a good candidate to host a center. Posey's district (FL-15) includes Florida Tech.

Six more shuttle flights are planned. Under current budgets, NASA's Ares I rocket and Orion crew capsule won't be ready to fly astronauts until March 2015 at the earliest. Some analysts believe 2017 or 2018 is more realistic.

Roughly 7,000 Kennedy Space Center jobs could be lost during that gap.

The presidential committee reviewing NASA's Constellation program has suggested that commercial alternatives might be ready sooner and be more cost effective. The committee is expected to release its final report at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Click here to read today's press release from Kosmas.1

1 comment:

ellegood said...

I'm not sure where the $370 million figure came from. The FAA currently sponsors four or five aviation-focused Centers of Excellence (one led by Embry-Riddle). Each of these receives something on the order of $2-5 million per year.