Kris Kimel, president of the Kentucky Science and Technology corporation and James Smith of Belcan kicked off the second annual KySat conference.
Kris explains that a lot has happened with KySat in the year since the last conference, pointing out, for example, that Kentucky has been awarded $13 million to get more Kentucky high school kids into - and passing - advanced placement courses in science and technology.
In addition, the KySat Space Express mission took place in December. Though the systems worked as planned, the rocket failed to reach its target altitude.
Four or five proposals are now in the works with NASA, UC Berkeley, John Hopkins and other institutions to further develop the space program.
The big question is how can "we expand the impact of this effort to include more people."
The design, launch and management of small satellites is still the goal, but other goals have been expanded.
As he explains, "KySat" has been changed to "Kentucky Space." There are four components:
- Near Space - a high altitude balloon component has been added. Working in cooperation with Stanford, efforts are underway now. Kris added that he has briefed the governor's staff on the uses of high altitude balloons on behalf of the commonwealth. The target is 4 - 6 launches a year - doing real research, he emphasizes - to measure changes in Kentucky from near space.
- Suborbital - currently looking at Spaceport New Mexico to do more launches.
- Orbital - KySat One is nearly done. The flight model is coming together. "Once we're into space," the goal is an orbital launch every 12 - 18 months.
- Deep Space - one mission might include a fly-by of the moon on the way to deeper space. Kentucky Space is looking at one proposal now. The "footprint is growing." For example, the exploration and potential mining of asteroids is also being discussed.
With that, he announces that Jim Smith who serves as the chief engineer for Belcan, which has financially committed to Kentucky Space.
Referencing an August, 2007 Ky Space meeting, Smith says that Belcan was on board from that moment, wondering only how it might play a constructive role. The company concluded that it could best help by providing some strategic planning, focusing efforts and by identifying opportunities.
The current Kentucky Space vision statement says that by 2013:
KySpace will be a collaborative, non-profit enterprise that is recognized for enhancing the economic vitality of Kentucky through the expansion of technology development opportunities in space systems, aeronautics, astronautics; the stimulation of innovative business development and economic growth; and the expansion of educational opportunities throughout the Commonwealth.
He outlines steps being taken now to make that vision a reality. Given the enthusiasm for the entire Kentucky Space project, the question for Belcan is not one of "wanting," but only of "how." That's a very good start.