Last month while representing simpleQuE at the 43rd Space Congress in Cape Canaveral, FL, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the innovators, entrepreneurs, visionaries and astronauts who are changing the face of human spaceflight. This 3-day conference included a range of topics from space exploration and aviation to emerging technology and the need for disruptive innovation, as well as manufacturing and support industries and infrastructure.
Kennedy Space Center shared its Master Plan to evolve over the next 20 years from a single, government user launch complex to a multi-user spaceport. Just last week, NASA announced it is seeking proposals from companies to build privately operated rocket launching sites at KSC. In 2015, 26 launches are scheduled at Cape Canaveral, 9 (or 35%) of which are commercial flights.
Of most interest was NASA’s panel discussion on the return of human spaceflight to Cape Canaveral Spaceport, featuring former astronauts Chris Ferguson of Boeing and Garrett Reisman of SpaceX. Both companies are competing to see which one will have the first commercial vehicle ready to fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in 2017. It would mean a return of U.S. crews in U.S. built vehicles lifting off once again from U.S. launch pads.
NASA’s next step is deep space and sending humans to an asteroid by 2025 and Mars in the 2030s on the Orion spacecraft. In anticipation of a journey to Mars, companies are preparing for off world development – how to adapt to living, farming and surviving on other worlds which will lead to new technologies and solutions. For example, ways to effectively track and monitor space debris.
The Space Coast is uniquely positioned to compete with other spaceports being developed because of its ideal location, high tech infrastructure, space history and heritage, tax and business incentives, quadramodal transportation hub and skilled workforce. Of most value is the “human supply chain” which includes the most concentrated high tech workforce in Florida and the highest concentration of engineers in the country.
With Boeing, Space X, Embraer, Harris, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and so many other leading aerospace manufacturers in Central Florida, it made perfect sense for simpleQuE to have a presence at the event. We are ready for lift-off!