This week at Cape Canaveral saw the red, white and blue honored by one of the most historic of American traditions. It also saw local leaders both working to improve the economic future of the Space Coast region and acknowledging the benefits of the shuttle era extending into another year.
New Americans sworn in at Kennedy Space Center
The time-honored tradition of swearing in new American citizens was held for the first time at a NASA center. Held at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex rocket garden on June 1 at 9 a.m., the event saw 110 people, representing 36 different countries, having the oath of allegiance administered to them by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
There will be some 55 similar ceremonies held across the United States and at points around the globe through July 6. These ceremonies are held in honor of the Independence Day holiday.
"Kennedy Space Center in particular and NASA in general are honored to host the naturalization ceremony today," NASA spokesperson Allard Beutel said. "These people worked long and hard to become U.S. citizens and we're proud to recognize their accomplishment here, especially so close to Independence Day."
The Oath of Allegiance must be taken by all immigrants who want to be U.S. citizens. The Oath traces its roots back to the Revolutionary War where the first oath was made at Valley Forge on May 30, 1778. The current exact wording of the oath could be changed at any time. However, it must contain five core principles; allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, renouncement of any previous allegiance, promise to serve in the U.S. armed forces when required by law, defend the U.S. Constitution from foreign and domestic enemies and perform civilian duties also when required by law.
Searra Weeks, a fifth-grade student at Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary School in Merritt Island, sings the national anthem during a naturalization ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The Transportation and Security Administration Honor Guard posted the American, Homeland Security and NASA flags at the ceremony. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administered the Oath of Allegiance to 110 people, representing 36 countries, in honor of the upcoming Independence Day holiday. This was the first naturalization ceremony hosted by a NASA facility. Photo Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann
Space Florida to host "Best Ideas" Forum
On June 30, Space Florida announced it would host a "Best Ideas" Forum at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando. The event will be held from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on July 6. Numerous organizations involved with Florida's high tech industry will be in attendance. Space Florida is partnering with a number of local groups working to improve regional economic development to host the forum.
It is hoped that this day-long event will spur new ideas as to how to decrease the impact of the shuttle program's retirement. Any ideas that emerge will be presented to the Federal Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development for consideration. Local residents, businesses and other organizations who feel they have ideas that could create jobs and broaden the area's economic foundation are encouraged to attend. The event is free and open to the public.
"The best and brightest minds in the world reside right here in Central Florida and have worked for many years on the space program. Now, we're capturing their minds in new ways on how we can save space, our legacy industry with over 20,000 workers in the I-4 corridor alone, while also transitioning to new innovative industries that can fully utilize their talents. This issue certainly impacts all of us," said Ray Gilley, president and CEO of the Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission.
All of the concepts that are presented at the Forum or online via Space Florida's website will be given to the Task Force for review. The primary goal of the Forum is to find ways to broaden the Space Coast's economic infrastructure so as to lessen the region's reliance on NASA programs.
"Diversification of our economy is key," said Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast. "This transitional time presents us with a solid opportunity for innovation, which can drive our future economy. The Best Ideas Forum provides an excellent opportunity to spawn innovative ideas."
Space Florida was formed in an effort to maintain Florida's position as a leader in aerospace research and commerce. The organization was formed in 2006 under the Space Florida Act and consists of three separate preexisting groups; the Florida Space Authority, Florida Space Research Institute and the Florida Aerospace Finance Corporation.
Congresswoman Kosmas pleased with shuttle program extension
Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas issued a news release about NASA's plans to extend the shuttle program into 2011. Kosmas is the representative of the 24th congressional district which includes Brevard County and NASA's Kennedy Space Center. She has been working to see the shuttle program extended - and for an additional flight to be added.
"Today's news that the Shuttle program has been officially extended until at least February of next year is a welcome development that will help preserve jobs and ease the transition for the Space Coast," Kosmas stated in her release. "The extension shows the importance of our successful efforts to eliminate the hard deadline for Shuttle retirement, which would have ended the Shuttle program in September of this year.
Suzanne Kosmas has supported NASA and has been working to secure the Space Coast's space-related infrastructure. Some of Kosmas' efforts include the introduction of the Human Spaceflight Capability Assurance and Protection Act. The bill would work to solve the local problem of space-related jobs leaving the region while at the national level it would lengthen the lifespan of the International Space Station (ISS), extend the shuttle program and accelerate production of the next NASA-developed spacecraft.
This Week in Cape Canaveral History
June 30, 2000: Ten years ago this week NASA launched the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-8 (TDRS-8) on an Atlas 2A rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla. With the launch of this satellite and its placement into a geosynchronous orbit the TDRS constellation of satellites was raised to seven. This would have been the eighth TDRS to be placed in orbit were it not for the tragic loss of Challenger (STS-51L) which was carrying the TDRS-B satellite.
The first satellite, TDRS-H, successfully launches on June 30, 2000 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 36A. Photo Credit: Capcom Espace