This is a multiple choice question. The reason I was late for my telecom last Thursday was (a) I forgot how to get to the office (b) the dog hid my keys (c) there was a snake in my living room.
It was 6:30am, I was leaving the house to run, and there it was. In the dusk, I thought it was a big rubber band. It looked brown, so I went over to pick it up, bent down, and it moved. Not fast, it was on a cold tile floor. Good. I had the jump on it. I turned the light on, looked down, and it was a snake. Little. I remembered little rattle snakes are more dangerous than their elders. This was a job for Tupperware. I got a large Tupperware bowl, put it over the snake,and went for my run. When I got home, I called animal control. They came over within an hour. In short order we had the bull snake in the bucket. Yep, it was a bull snake. Whew. I know how lucky I am to live in Las Cruces. Between the time I called and the snake was off to his next adventure, was an hour.
When I got to the office, I wasn’t late. My telecom was with spaceport directors who are speaking at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS). ISPCS will be held on October 19-20, at the Farm and Ranch. The six directors will discuss their current challenges, each has interesting stories indeed.
A spaceport is like an airport in that it is a service provider. Airports face challenges, just like spaceports. Times change, businesses must adapt. Some airports have too much traffic, some too little. Some need to expand like the San Diego Airport but they are locked in by the city. Mojave Air and Space Port has that problem. Spaceport Sweden is in a similar position to Spaceport America fifteen years ago, will it get off the ground? ISPCS brings industry leaders together to help them get a snapshot of the state of the industry across many domains, spaceports is just one domain.
Jim Ball, the development manager of NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) will be on the panel. KSC is facing re-organzation now that the Shuttle program has ended. Mark Bontrager, who just retired from Cape Canaveral, the Air Force station that has played a great role in the early missile test and development programs, will be joining us. He is now the Vice President of Spaceport Operations with Space Florida. The State of Florida created Space Florida as an Independent Special District. Its purpose is to foster the economic growth and development of a sustainable and world-leading space industry in Florida.
Tom Berard, who was the Executive Director of White Sands Missile Range, is now the Executive Director of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base. His experience at Edwards is similar to our situation in New Mexico. Edwards and Mojave Air and Space Port are contiguous just as White Sands Missile Range and Spaceport America share air space and are neighbors. Since Tom was involved in writing the agreements while Spaceport America was being formed, he is familiar not only with Edwards but also with WSMR and Spaceport America. Stewart Witt, the Executive Director of Mojave Air and Space Port will chair the panel. He has nothing but praise for his relationship with Edwards. Christine Anderson, Executive Director of Spaceport America, has gotten up to speed quickly. Chris has not met any of the panelists. Her years in the Air Force prepared her for establishing working relationships quickly. Stu and Chris have not met Tom yet. But he has met Karin Nilsdotter, director of Spaceport Sweden.
Karin Nilsdotter will round out the panel. Spaceport Sweden has Esrange Space Center as a partner, as well as the Ice Hotel. Sweden and Florida have similarities in their economic development strategies. Esrange has many similarities to WSMR. NMSU has worked with Esrange for years as research partners.
A subject we will also include in the discussion is the Range Commanders Council (RCC) The RCC was established almost 60 years ago. It shares technical information among its members and has “Standing Groups” to help standardize systems, techniques, methods and procedures among participants. Airports have a similar group. As this industry grows, I continue to advocate we learn from those who have gone before us. And yes, I told them the snake story – they are still coming.