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FAA Setting Up Commercial Spaceflight Center 113

Posted by samzenpus
from the to-the-moon-with-you dept.
coondoggie writes "The FAA this week took a step closer to setting up a central hub for the development of key commercial space transportation technologies such as space launch and traffic management applications and setting orbital safety standards. The hub, known as the Center of Excellence for Commercial Space Transportation, would have a $1 million yearly budget and tie together universities, industry players, and the government for cost-sharing research and development. The FAA expects the center to be up and running this year."
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FAA Setting Up Commercial Spaceflight Center

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  • 1 miilion?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @08:45PM (#32024720)
    Do you know how far 1 million dollars goes in a government project? They won't even have a building for 30 years at that rate.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pspahn (1175617)
      They had to get their paws on a new industry ahead of time. Think of it like Microsoft buying WebTV back in '97. Well, except I suppose that nobody actually ever used WebTV.
      • Re:1 miilion?? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Un pobre guey (593801) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @09:05PM (#32024942) Homepage
        A rather apt analogy, actually.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          No, the proper syntax is:

          apt-get install analogy

      • WebTV is unfortunately still around, their users like to join IRC networks and act like uniform asshats and idiots. They jump in the room, ask a/s/l and then proceed to attempt to insult and curse everyone in the room. It is very similar to the way AOL users used to act. A normal WebTV user's comment will be something along the lines of "53/m/ny, lking 4 strt bi cyber, whisper me" and when told to go away they will use their stunningly high IQ of 80 to mock the person. They are a cancer of the int
    • by Seakip18 (1106315)

      True story:

      When Florida's new accounting software project, http://www.docstoc.com/docs/18152104/Auditing-Large-and-Complex-IT-Projects/ [docstoc.com](slide 26) Aspire, failed due to an ungodly amount of incompetence, it cost the state $89 million.

      This includes the nearly $10 million already paid out, plus the unknown amount of money in lost productivity of the various agencies, etc. who paid folks to attend meetings, plan stuff, gather requirements.

      So $89 Million could easily have actually been $100 Million+.

      And they th

    • Re:1 miilion?? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmytheNO@SPAMjwsmythe.com> on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @09:35PM (#32025196) Homepage Journal

      Maybe, but they had already slated Edwards AFB to be the American spaceport for commercial ventures. There's no mention of Edwards in the article nor the associated pages, so this may be yet another great waste of time, where one department didn't realize that they had set aside resources towards their goal already.

          Edwards has been the defacto second space center in the US, with many space shuttle landings there. White Sands is a third US landing site, but from what I understand the dust made the shuttle rather messy.

          There were a whole bunch of other emergency landing sites too [globalsecurity.org].

          Ya, $1 million won't buy enough land and the first construction trailer, much less a spaceport. $1 billion would be a good start, but that isn't even enough. It sounds like they're hoping to get other companies and universities to foot the bill. Good luck with that.

      • by slick7 (1703596)
        The teamsters will suck that up just for union dues.
      • by Teancum (67324)

        I'm reading this post, and I don't know what to even think of it. Edwards AFB as an American spaceport of choice?

        I've heard somewhat recent reports about the commercial spaceport in Mojave, California; on Wallops Island, Virginia; Kodiak Island, Alaska; Burns Flat, Oklahoma; Cape Canavaral, Florida; and the big one that is being financed almost exclusively with state money in southern New Mexico. Vandenburg AFB, also in California, has been mentioned a few times although the military keeps things pretty w

    • by reub2000 (705806)
      And that is a bad thing? When I read "setting orbital safety standards" in the summary, I was thinking that was the end of private spaceflight.
      • by slick7 (1703596)

        And that is a bad thing? When I read "setting orbital safety standards" in the summary, I was thinking that was the end of private spaceflight.

        Another reason to clean up the orbital spaceways. Lots and lots of money in doing so.

      • by Bodhammer (559311)
        No, it is taxpayer dollars and a government government program. They are talking about orbiting Uranus and preparing to land...
    • Well you have to put your pinky up to your lips when demanding it. Then, of course your assistant will discretely inform you about diminished value of the dollar.... You know the rest of the story. It did result in a launch though. I guess that means it was successful.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      This budget is probably to hire someone to coordinate the goodwill and efforts of people who are already funded by other means. 1 million means a 5-10 people team to do the work that no partner wants to do. That is not nothing. This is not the main gear, this is the grease that will make them turn. And sometimes, a big multi-billion project fails exactly for the lack of these small drops of grease.
    • From reading the Article I got the idea this was going to be another Federally mandated not for profit organization on the lines of http://www.itsa.org/ [itsa.org] ! They get a lot of their funding from the dues that members pay to have access to all the info they collect! Basically a clearing house for all the technical info for Space like ITSA is for highways!
  • $1 Million? Wha? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by johnthorensen (539527) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @08:47PM (#32024740)
    $1 Million dollar budget? It's a nice gesture, but it seems pretty small for the responsibilities they're claiming this center to have. Seems more like a 'token' gesture made to *look* like they're doing something than taking real action to make things happen. That said, I'd rather see them save that money and get out of the way altogether...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      $1 Million dollar budget? It's a nice gesture, but it seems pretty small for the responsibilities they're claiming this center to have. Seems more like a 'token' gesture made to *look* like they're doing something than taking real action to make things happen.

      Sounds like someone's nephew needed a job that didn't require him to actually do much other than pick up his paycheck.

      $1 million will about cover office space & equipment and salaries for someone's nephew, his secretary, and the office manager for

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They're just being efficient. One million dollars pays for exactly one CEO with nothing left over, but we all know that a CEO is a superhuman worker who can do hundreds of times what a normal worker can do, why else would they be paid so much? So this is really a cheap way of having an office staffed with hundreds without the hundreds.
    • by usul294 (1163169)
      $1 million is probably enough to handle 6 or so people working in an office. If they are there to facilitate the cross-pollination of ideas, writing and maintaining a couple hundred page piece of FAA regulations, and another document to explain how to manage the airspace involved, that's probably the right amount of money to get started.
      • by warGod3 (198094)

        Let's see... it looks like they will use an existing structure, probably part of either NASA's donation or a universities. Researchers will probably be from universities and NASA working on some kind of team with someone from the FAA either overseeing the whole operation or having significant input.

        Here is one part I just wonder about -

        3.3 CRITERION 3: THE ABILITY OF THE APPLICANT TO PROVIDE
        LEADERSHIP IN MAKING NATIONAL AND REGIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO
        THE SOLUTION OF LONG-RANGE AND IMMEDIATE AIR TRANSPORTATION
        PROBLEMS.
        The applicant must demonstrate the following:
        Significant experience with industry and/or government agencies related to
        commercial space transportation. A proposed plan might include the establishment of
        an advisory board comprised of leaders in the field and written commitments from
        their organizations to be actively engaged in the COE.
        High standing within the national and international arena of commercial space
        transportation research as evidenced by presentations at national and international
        conferences, publications in popular and peer-reviewed periodicals, etc.
        Evidence of ability to obtain matching funds and potential sources, i.e. letters of
        commitment.
        If the applicant proposes as a member of a team of universities, it must provide a
        comprehensive strategic management plan. This plan should articulate proposed
        management and oversight of fiscal and technical activities, and detail how the
        universities will coordinate research efforts, how research teams will be selected and
        evaluated, and how the costs of administering the Center will be apportioned and
        funded.

        Do they plan on having Virgin-whatever help them out?

  • CECST (Score:3, Funny)

    by mmmmbeer (107215) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @08:51PM (#32024790)

    Won't that be pronounced "Sext"?

    • by slick7 (1703596)

      Won't that be pronounced "Sext"?

      It seems to me, it should be pronounced "punked"
      First it's announced that the shuttle is retiring. Then it's announced, "commercial spaceport".
      The same people involved in the shuttle (and support systems) are now involved in the commercial aspects.
      Sure doesn't sound like Virgin Galactic to me. What is replacing the shuttle? When will it be operational?
      1 million $ buys how many politicians? Who's doing the investment portfolio, Goldman-Sachs?
      This really sounds bogus. When this too fails, will the taxpayers b

    • by urusan (1755332)

      An alternative is to pronounce it "cest" like in "incest".

      • by D Ninja (825055)

        This is how I hear the meetings at various conference happening now:

        Defense Contractor: "Why hello! My name is John and I work for Big Defense Contractor. Who might you be?"
        CECST Employee: "My name is Mike."
        Defense Contractor: "Sorry, Mike, I didn't catch where you work..."
        CECST Employee: "In CECST"

      • I think we should start calling this "outcest" to stop all these jokes right here.

    • I see it pronounced as "SezST". As in:

      "Thank you for flying US Space. We'll be making our landing incest in two and a half minutes..."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    One million dollars! *Pinky to mouth*

  • by MZeora (1707054) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @08:57PM (#32024852) Homepage
    I understood it as using 1M to gather up groups (unis and such) to gather together and use the joint gathered funding to build the place and get it running.
    So yeah, 1M to gather groups together to work on it MIGHT maybe. Get 2 Big Unis with some clout. Or 4 or 5 smaller Unis together to help. But still 1M in comparison to the Ivy League Schools that might actually have some powers to make it happens to mean little to nothing.
    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      I understood it as using 1M to gather up groups (unis and such) to gather together and use the joint gathered funding to build the place and get it running.

      Pretty much the impression I had, though I ask "build what place"? From what they describe in the article, they can just rent some office space, or set up a few "temporary" office trailers around existing FAA offices if they don't have room. It sounds like gathering the research groups together is most of all the actual work they'll be doing, acting as

    • A web page with a form. One poor nerd to sit in a dimly lit cubicle feebly attempting to respond to the 35,000 submitted forms per day, the IT infrastructure to support him (an exchange cluster, an AD + file&print server and bandwidth, a leased pair of IIS servers backed by a two-node MS-SQL Server server cluster). A filing cabinet he steals office supplies from every day.

      A "consultant" in Bangalore that sets up said single web page ready to exploit with various viruses.

      It does not even begin to pay

  • ...Not with a bang
    but a whimper.
  • Well! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Un pobre guey (593801) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @08:58PM (#32024870) Homepage
    Yep, gotta handle all that space traffic. Yessiree Bob! No more waiting in line, no more congestion in the TSA security line, no more risk of getting bumped off your spaceflight. Yeah, times have changed, what with all the commercial space flight going on.
  • Honestly, and I'm certainly no libertarian, I don't want the FAA to have anything to do with space or commercial space travel AT ALL. OK, they do manage to keep the air travel in the US somewhat stable, but really they move so slowly and are so co-opted by they airlines they are supposed to regulate. Just ask anyone involved with trying to get the FAA to implement Direct and other flight path changes to improve on-time performance and fuel usage. Or anyone who has ever worked on any project to upgrade air

    • Re:FAA? DONOTWANT (Score:5, Insightful)

      by selven (1556643) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @09:52PM (#32025360)

      I, for my part, am a libertarian, but that is a little extreme. The FAA should definitely have nothing to do with what goes on above 100km, but there are some aviation concerns that the FAA might need to handle. Things like discarded stages falling on people's heads, rockets crashing into (or at least spraying exhaust onto, or destabilizing the flight path of) planes flying through the rocket's launch trajectory and spacecraft landing (most designs involve making the craft into an airplane). There should be no regulations in space, but things going up and down are still passing through everyone else's airspace.

      • *facepalm*

        I know you mean well and that's fine, but there is something you need to understand. All orbital spaceflights originating in the US have very strict requirements that a large portion of their initial launch trajectory ground traces over open ocean. This is done specifically so that you don't have rockets or fuel crashing down on your populace. Now, I don't know what kind of restrictions are being discussed by the FAA, but commercial launches already have to adhere to these guidelines (The Atlas
      • by turgid (580780)

        I, for my part, am a libertarian

        And thus you disqualify yourself from any rational discussion.

    • by Teancum (67324)

      Too late. The FAA is already heavily involved with commercial space travel through the Office of Commercial Space Transportation [wikipedia.org]. They've been doing this since 1984 under the Reagan administration, although this particular commercial spaceflight office has jumped around between several different agencies before finally getting put under the head administrator of the FAA. The FAA-AST head reports directly to the chief administrator of the FAA, who in turn reports directly to the President. That is a rath

    • How do you propose those space flights get to space? I'm betting its through civilian airspace.

      The FAA should definitely have something to do with that.

  • I can tell it's going to suck because it's a "center of excellence". Sounds like something from Office Space.

    • by slick7 (1703596)

      I can tell it's going to suck because it's a "center of excellence". Sounds like something from Office Space.

      Any venture that combines government and government contractors does not sit well with me.
      I can already see Halliburton jockeying for space access.

      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        Not all government contractors are like Halliburton or you would hear much more about it. Some government contractors actually employee competent people and get the job done on a daily basis.

        • by Mr Bubble (14652)

          I agree. I was being half flippant. Advertising something as a "center of excellence" is propaganda. Titles don't define excellence.

  • Exactly how is it "commercial" if the government forces everyone to jump through their hoops and use their services? And you wonder why everyone is moving to China.

    • by dontbgay (682790)

      Yeah, because safety and quality are paramount to Chinese ideals? If you don't know what I mean, search for a couple YouTube Chinese automobile crash test videos.

      Turns out, safety is profitable when the people who use your product are concerned about whether or not they'll die. Something tells me that regardless of peoples' ideas about how the FAA handles themselves with the commercial carriers in the US, they're keeping the skies as safe as necessary. When was the last time you had an aircraft tire crash t

      • by Plekto (1018050)

        The FAA is completely different, though, in that it deals with air travel. It is now deciding that you have to deal with it when you decide to go into space? If I launched my spacecraft from Iceland, France, Japan, or pretty much anyplace else, I'd not have to deal with any of it.

        While other countries have their issues, it seems as if the U.S. can't help but create miles of needless paperwork and agencies to control everything that they can. Now they are trying to control access to space. Just moving y

        • You appear to be unaware that many other industrialized nations have their own version of the FAA and regulatory oversight also exists at the international level. From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_aviation#Regulation_and_safety):

          Most countries have authorities that oversee all civil aviation, including general aviation, adhering to the standardized codes of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Examples include the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in Great Britain, the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt (LBA) in Germany, and Transport Canada in Canada.

          • by Plekto (1018050)

            No, I know, but they don't generally regulate outer space, which is the real long-term goal of the U.S.(along with regulating the entire rest of the planet apparently)

  • by ibsteve2u (1184603) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @05:20AM (#32027558)

    ...but then I realized that, while there were the predictable rants to the effect that government having anything to do with "commercial space flight" was a bad thing somehow, there were no observations on the irony of "commercial space flight" being reliant upon existing and massive taxpayer-funded infrastructure and the continued maintenance and improvement of same.

    How "private" is a venture that depends upon the preexistence of a trillion dollar taxpayer investment to ensure that they don't get a free colonoscopy from a bolt or other bit of space debris that is traveling at 22,000 MPH??

    I am still waiting for the "commercial space flight venture" that starts out in a truly "private" manner by building ground communications and tracking stations around the planet - to include a facility equivalent to the Air Force Space Command's tracking site at NORAD.

    "Commercial space flight" is not so much a "venture" as it is a new and fascinating form of wealth transfer. Pat yourself on the back: If you have paid any Federal taxes in the last 50 years, you're helping somebody else explore the possibility of getting extremely wealthy through the use of the facilities you built.

    • How "private" is a venture that depends upon the preexistence of a trillion dollar taxpayer investment to ensure that they don't get a free colonoscopy from a bolt or other bit of space debris that is traveling at 22,000 MPH??

      Roughly as private as a venture which depends on obtaining weather reports built using taxpayer investment. Or as private as a venture requiring the use of roads built using taxpayer investment. Etc... etc...

      I am still waiting for the "commercial space flight venture" that st

      • Roughly as private as a venture which depends on obtaining weather reports built using taxpayer investment. Or as private as a venture requiring the use of roads built using taxpayer investment. Etc... etc...

        In other words, for reasons unknown, you wish to hold commercial space ventures to a standard no other business venture must meet. I hate to break it to you...It's part of that "public good" thing.

        How much good is the public going to realize from these private space ventures? I somehow do not see the average American dropping $1x10e6 for a tourist ride.

        If your response is that the private ventures will "someday" return something of value to the American people as a whole, then I would ask what is it? When will it arrive? How will these private ventures pay for the use of the American people's space facilities in the meantime?

        To use the words that business uses to cut American jobs, ensuring that t

        • I was going to answer, when I realized that reading two clueless rants from you were enough.

          • Just as well; I probably would have used the exact same words that you used in response again. This exchange should teach me one thing:
            If you use somebody else's words, you inherit the clueless rant.

    • If you have paid any Federal taxes in the last 50 years, you're helping somebody else explore the possibility of getting extremely wealthy through the use of the facilities you built.

      See, I look at it as:

      If you have paid any Federal taxes in the last 50 years, you're helping invest in an industry that can open the door to incredible science, information, resources, and potential for the entire species.

      That being said, this is one thing I actually like the idea of paying taxes towards. Well, this along with a standing army, a functioning power network, nice roads, etc...but that's all off topic. I guess what I am getting at is that this is helping a whole new industry blossom, just like cars blossomed in the early 1900's, and personal computers blossomed in the 1980's. That's something well worth investing in, in my opinion. Of course, your view may well (and certainly seems to) var

      • lolll...oh, I have no problem with this nation going into space; in fact, I figure that we either do that, or that we'll eventually collectively drown in the toxins so much American industry fled to China et al in order to freely produce. I do, however, have a problem with this nation subsidizing a few people's drive for wealth. What kind of fees are we going to charge the emerging "private" space industry to recoup our investment in infrastructure, for instance? People pay federal gas taxes, to use your
        • Well I don't know about any taxes in particular, but I do know that private space industry development will help move along COTS component R&D which will certainly benefit NASA, NOAA, and most civilian customers in terms of technology developments and in-house R&D money saved. I can't pretend to have the economic expertise to even start figuring whether this will lead to the subsidies paying for themselves or not, but it is certainly a start.
          • I have another concern, too...the profit motive.

            Take, for instance, the recent oil and ongoing oil spill in the gulf...in 2003 [cbsnews.com], an oil industry-friendly White House scrapped plans to make the oil companies tighten up their spill prevention act; a requirement to use the acoustic BOP was tossed because the oil industry argued that it was too expensive and "might not work anyway".

            Now we have an oil spill that is going to cost...a lot...to clean up, perhaps because of a desire to avoid spending $500K. I find t

  • Not sure, but that's probably enough to pay for business cards, a pallet of letterhead, and the salaries for the G-20 and the three G-14s that are gonna run the operation. In government that's enough.

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