Space Traffic Conference on Campus

Cassandra Vella/News Editor

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University held the Space Traffic Management Conference November 12 and 13 to encourage attendees to aspire for the future of Space Travel.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the conference with my very own SP 110 – Introduction to Space Flight class, with special thanks to Dr. Lance Erickson.

The lecture we attended for class was a very special one, presented by none other than the Director of Kennedy Space Center, Robert D. Cabana. Mr. Cabana was a NASA Shuttle Crew Member in 1985.

Throughout the presentation, Cabana expressed his passion for his career, coworkers, and work site. He was very proud to show us all of the exciting changes coming to Kennedy Space Center over the next eight years and how much less of an ecological impact these changes will make compared to the original Kennedy Space Center designs.

For instance, many of the pads in the Vehicle Assembly Building are adjustable for different vehicles and can be reused to help build different components.

Unfortunately, as technology advances and spacecrafts get larger, the different pieces have not been able to be assembled at one time without years to change the Vehicle Assembly Building during development.

Along with the original adjustable Shuttle Pads that are already in use in the Vehicle Assembly Building, Cabana plans to have an even larger facility that will use completely reusable pads that can fit the specifications that spacecraft need to be.

Additionally, Cabana compared each other the currently used launch pads to the changes he may be implementing in the next few years.

For instance, Space Launch Complex 41 will be used for the Boeing CST-100. The work for two nearby pads, LC 39A and 39B, will be used for SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy and NASA’s Space Launch System.

NASA’s Space Launch System is already underway as the new gateway to Mars with its anticipated completion to be in 2023, or as Cabana hopes – 2021.

He was very knowledgeable on the entire plan, from assembling cargo to sending astronauts from the ISS, and hopes to send missions every year once the Space Launch System is operational, to ensure that humans can make it to Mars safe and sound, without forgetting any glass slippers.

When it came time, Cabana had a lively question and answer session. The question that stuck out most was the one about how NASA is accepting Astronaut Applications again.

He was excited that someone brought up the topic, because he wanted to share his background about how he tried, failed, and tried again to become the astronaut he was able to become with the same opportunity that is being offered right now.

When Cabana was younger, he went to school, then some graduate school, and eventually decided to become a test pilot for the military. He encouraged some students at the conference to try that route as well, since Shuttle pilots always felt as if
they were test pilots.

He went on talking about how he could not become an initial flight test pilot, as the vision in one of his eyes was not as great as NASA needed it to be, but he was still able to become a navigator and continue flying.

After passing all of his physicals and eye tests throughout his military time, Cabana asked to try again and made it through all of the process and interviews for becoming an astronaut, but they turned him down and asked him to try again next time.

With his optimistic persistence, Cabana started over and tried again, and became the pilot for a space shuttle. He participated in 4 space flights, and eventually became the Director of one of the facilities, having one of the most fun government jobs in the world.

He ended his talk by strongly encouraging students to follow their passions and stay determined, so each and every one of us can be the best we can be.