Friday, November 4, 2011

Reinventing KSC -- At A Cost

Three articles in Florida Today reflect the changes planned for Kennedy Space Center — but only if Congress provides the funding.

"Efforts Evolving to Reshape the Cape" is about "the center’s new way of doing business and the Space Coast’s hopes for a thriving space industry."

"KSC is being compelled to reinvent itself," said Joyce Riquelme, manager of the center’s planning and development office. "Unlike the Apollo transition, this time we have a vision and a plan."

The plan to reshape the Cape as a hub for commercial space activity was the subject of a panel discussion Thursday at the SunComm 2011 conference, hosted by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association at the Cocoa Beach Oceanfront Hilton.

Government and industry officials promised greater diversity in local space operations and missions in the coming years, but no guarantees that the more than 8,000 contractor jobs lost with the 30-year shuttle program would easily be replaced.

The article outlines development plans by Boeing, SpaceX, ATK and Masten.

"Some Experts Question D.C.'s Space Commitment" documents how both the Senate and House have cut President Obama's proposed Fiscal Year 2012 NASA budget.

President Barack Obama proposed funding NASA at $18.7 billion in his fiscal 2012 budget. That’s about $280 million, or 1.5 percent, more than the agency got in fiscal 2011.

On Tuesday, the Democrat-controlled Senate approved $17.9 billion for the space agency. A bill in the Republican-run House would provide $16.8 billion.

The chambers will have to negotiate a compromise that’s sure to give NASA less than the $18.4 billion it got in fiscal 2011.

On the editorial page, aeronautics professor Wes Harris of MIT writes that "retirement of the space shuttle marked the end of an era, but it didn’t end American leadership in space."

To the contrary — just as Apollo led to the shuttle and then the space station, there is always another chapter waiting in space. Whether it will be America that writes it, only time will tell. But there are reasons to be concerned.

Harris notes that the Republican majority in the House of Representatives has voted to cancel the Webb Space Telescope, and there are pressures to cancel weather satellites needed by 2016.

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