Boeing brings jobs, Commercial Crew center to NASA.

Boeing will manufacture and test its Crew Space Transportation-100 spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER – In a big boost for the economically ailing Space Coast, Boeing announced today that it would manufacture and test its Crew Space Transportation-100 spacecraft, and move its Commercial Crew program office, manufacturing and operations, to Kennedy Space Center.
The deal sets up a long-range partnership between Boeing, one of the largest global aircraft manufacturers and the third largest aerospace and defense contractor in the world, and Space Florida, the state’s space economic development agency.
Boeing is projecting this move will create 140 jobs in Florida by June 2013 and 550 by December 2015 through the CST-100, which is a reusable capsule-shaped spacecraft that has a crew module and service module.
Through this program, Boeing plans test flights by 2015 from the Eastern Launch Range at Cape Canaveral and will modernize Orbital Processing Facility-3, previously used to perform maintenance on the shuttle orbiters.
This partnership was formed in part because the OPF-3 offers the facility needed for manufacturing and processing the spacecraft, as well as office, laboratory and logistics areas that are needed to support operations and training for this mission with NASA.
During a press conference at Kennedy Space Center this morning, Gov. Rick Scott praised the deal and the benefits expected to come from it, at a time when Florida maintains a double digit unemployment rate.
“Florida has five decades of leadership in the space industry, which makes our state the logical place for the next phase of space travel and exploration,” Scott said. “Boeing’s choice of Florida for its Commercial Crew program headquarters is evidence Florida has the world-class facilities and workforce expertise needed for aerospace companies to succeed.”
Likewise, Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida, added, “This positions our state well for future growth and a leadership role in NASA’s next generation human space exploration initiatives. It is also a key factor in ensuring Florida’s space-related economy continues to thrive in the post-shuttle retirement.”
John Mulholland, vice president and program manager of Commercial Programs for Boeing Space Exploration, said, “We selected Florida due to the cost benefits achieved with a consolidated operation, the skilled local workforce, and proximity to our NASA customer.
“Pending the continued selection of Boeing for future Commercial Crew development and service contracts, and sufficient NASA funding, we project a Commercial Crew program workforce ramping up to 550 local jobs by our scheduled operational date of December 2015,” Mulholland added.
Boeing is working with Space Florida on an agreement to use Kennedy Space Center’s Processing Control Center facilities for execution of the Commercial Crew program. The PCC has 99,000 square feet of control rooms and office space that Boeing plans to use, and PCC previously supported shuttle orbiter testing, launch team training, and computer system software and hardware development and maintenance operations.
This project has been in the discussion phase for most of this year, said Susan Wells of the Boeing Space Exploration Communications team.
“I know they’ve been in discussions with Space Florida for about six months or more,” Wells said.
Just how quickly this project will get off the ground is still in the negotiating phase, she added.
“They are working on those final timelines right now,” Wells said.
The Commercial Crew program consists of developing, manufacturing, testing and evaluating, and demonstrating the CST-100 spacecraft, launch vehicle and mission operations. This will be done for NASA’s new Commercial Crew human spaceflight program that is expected to provide flights to the International Space Station.
Boeing’s system will also be capable of supporting Bigelow Aerospace’s planned orbital space complex, while the CST-100 is a reusable capsule-shaped spacecraft based on proven materials and subsystem technologies that can transport up to seven people, or a combination of people and cargo. Boeing has designed the spacecraft to be compatible with a variety of expendable rockets.
Space Florida was created to maintain and strengthen the Sunshine State’s aerospace research, exploration and commerce.
President Obama has proposed cancelling NASA’s Constellation Program, which aimed to send astronauts back to the moon by 2020, and to cut funding for NASA’s planetary exploration program and space astronomy program. This has been a major worry for those employed on the Space Coast.
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The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers an enhanced experience that includes the NASA Up Close and Cape Canaveral Then and Now tours, Lunch With an Astronaut, and the Astronaut Training Experience. Log on, or call 321-449-4400 for details.

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A Halloween treat: the scary tricks inside the Enzian Theater’s Haunted Swamp.

The skeletons outside the Enzian Theater's Haunted Swamp try to entertain the crowd before you head inside, but the bad one-liners are a bit scary. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

MAITLAND – From the view in the parking lot, the Enzian Theater doesn’t look like it’s going to be a particularly scary place.
Granted, the large outdoor screen in the open field near the theater’s Eden Bar was showing “Night of the Living Dead” on Saturday evening, director George Romero’s classic zombie thriller, with Barbara and Johnny walking through the graveyard at the very start, not quite aware of the terrifying zombie apocalypse they had stumbled into.
And there were a few people that night decked out in ghoulish costumes, enjoying a drink at the bar.
Overall, though, the crowd of party revelers hanging out at the bar, relaxing and enjoying time with their friends, is a good advertisement for why this popular spot in Maitland draws such a healthy number of visitors every weekend. But scary?
Except that this evening, the theater is selling tickets not just for movies, but also for the Haunted Swamp, which I nervously toured on Saturday.
And you might ask, is it a good place to go to tonight, on Halloween, when you’re craving some scream-out-loud scares?
My recommendation: oh, yes.
From the theater’s ticket booth, you follow the tiki lights around the corner to the spot where the line begins. To keep you entertained, the theater provides a little Jazz from the Grateful Dead …. only it’s not that Grateful Dead. There are two skeletons who play music and crack jokes for your waiting pleasure, and while the music was good, I think these two need to bone up on their one-liners.
The swamp is completely sealed off by a fence – so you can’t quite see what it is you’re walking into. When it’s your turn, you walk over to the entrance, where the gatekeeper allows parties of four to proceed together through the swamp. There are, of course, some rules to follow, including no taking photos in there – which makes sense, since, after all, it’s all supposed to be hush hush – and if you have any trash, toss it into a nearby trash can before you begin your journey into the swamp, not afterwards.
And then …. you’re told to proceed.
At your own risk, of course.
Without giving away any of the details of this horrific attraction, I can point out that haunted swamps/houses/graveyards, etc., rely on three things to be genuinely effective.
First, there’s the element of surprise. Everyone knows you go into a haunted whatever to scream as the expected unexpectedly appears. The Enzian’s Haunted Swamp has this one down pat.

What's inside the Haunted Swamp: Here's a hint: darkness and shadows .... (Photo by Michael Freeman).

Second, they rely on ambiance. It has to look, and feel, positively eerie, so that everything around you gives you that feeling of anxiety, even discomfort, because it all seems so …. ominous.
Again, the Haunted Swamp, which was more than six months in the making, fits the bill.
Finally, haunted whatevers should tap into our cultural understanding of the clichés that the horror genre has been promoting for decades – things that have made up scream on the big screen, or in novels, or on television. There’s that instant recognition of what it is – and why it scares me.
Again, that’s a clear “bingo” for the Haunted Swamp.
The real test, though, is when you’re done. Is your heart pounding? Do you feel a little bit dizzy? Are you suddenly relieved to be back among the folks at the Eden Bar?
For me, the answers were yes, yes, yes.
The Halloween eve Swamp Tours run tonight from 8-10 p.m., and tickets cost $15. That includes unlimited swamp tours — you can go back in as many times as you want — drink discounts and food specials at the theater at 1300 S. Orlando Ave. in Maitland.
Pay $25 for a VIP ticket, and you get the added bonus of front of the line access.
The Haunted Swamp is a fiendishly effective way to go trick or treating tonight, a scary tour through the macabre swamps behind a theater that has a bar filled with strong liquor awaiting you once you’ve survived the tour. I recommend you enter …
…. if you dare
Call 407-629-0054 for more details.

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Freelining with Mike Freeman: Not-so-irrational fears.

Halloween raises the interesting question: why do we enjoy being scared when there's enough in real life to scare us anyway? (Photo by Michael Freeman).

With Halloween coming up in two days, this might be a good time to ask: what scares you?
Knowing I have a lot of pragmatic-minded friends, I can easily anticipate the sorts of answers I’m likely to get.
“My tax bill.”
“Obama’s re-election.”
“My wife in 10 years.”
“The scale in my bathroom.”
“The responses I get on”
Sigh. People, people, people, you’re missing the point. Bad a) politicians, b) dates, c) expenses …. are all pretty much ho-hum, everyday stuff. Yes, they’re all annoying, aggravating, and capable of raising the tedium level to new heights, but … scary? We can do better than that.
I happen to have an irrational fear, which I’ve been stuck with since I was a kid. To put it bluntly, I’m afraid of the dark. I hate, hate, hate being in dark places.
I hate walking into my house alone at night. That first split second when I step into the room and I’m in the pitch darkness, and I reach for the light switch … I always get an eerie chill in the moment before the light flashes on. I always sort of freeze up in anxiety and wonder — am I going to see the exact same old place I’d normally recognize as being my living room, or …. is there going to be something else in there that I hadn’t expected? You know — serial killer, ghost, collections agency representative, something truly terrifying. I’m happy to report that I usually flick on the light and find my same old couch and flat screen TV and DVD collection, but I have to admit, I always truly, truly do sigh in relief when my eyes connect with that pleasant blandness. 
I hate walking down the streets at night, alone, in the darkness.
“That’s ridiculous,” my buddy Brek laughed when I told him that. “You live in a safe neighborhood.”
“What if I got mugged?” I said.
“Michael,” he sighed, “consider where you live. Statistically, the chances of you being mugged here are about zero.”
Problem is, you can’t apply logic to an irrational fear.
For years, I’ve had a recurring nightmare that I leave a public building at night, then walk into the dark parking lot … and I can’t find my car. I stumble from one row to the next, and can’t find my Kia Rio. I get progressively more anxious and scared when I don’t see it.
Weird, but I’ve had this dream for years, and I think it adds to my ongoing irrational fear of the dark.
But I really blame it on the bedroom I had as a kid, growing up in a three-story house in Fall River, Massachusetts. The attic that had one very large room — my bedroom — which included a closet that separated my room from a doorway leading to the main attic hallway. Being isolated up there, with my entire family sleeping one floor below, was always a bit creepy for me as a kid.
I used to wake up in the middle of the night, in the pitch darkness, and hear the door between my room and the hallway open — and shut. I would sit up with a start and stare out into the darkness to see who — or what — had just walked into my room.

The closet in the attic room that Mike Freeman used as a bedroom growing up in Fall River, Massachusetts .... where he heard strange, eerie sounds in the middle of the night, in pitch darkness. (Photo by Michael Freeman.)

And every time I did that, I found I was always alone.
Don’t ghosts drive you crazy?
It’s nice to know that I’m not alone. The web site is actually devoted to irrational fears like mine — spiders, heights, elevators, etc.
The site’s author, Lounsey, notes that this is a blog where “I post the irrational fears that people send to me. Maybe reading about the fears of other people might make you realise that your own irrational fear isn’t so strange at all.”
That’s for sure. At least being alone in the dark — where your vision and senses are limited, and where you can feel considerably more vulnerable than in the daytime — seems semi-normal. Some of the responses were doozies.
“I’m terrified of Abraham Lincoln,” Joe Spence wrote to this blog. “Ever since I was in elementary school and read a book on ghosts of the White House, I have a reoccurring nightmare where Lincoln’s Ghost is standing over me … watching me sleep … it’s disturbing.”
That one is nothing if not original. And outside of that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?
Or this from Erica: “Chewing gum. I absolutely detest it. In my view, it is nothing more than a half-masticated, saliva-drenched food mass with the consistency of industrial rubber.”
And I thought walking alone on a dark street made me seem irrational. Mama!

Every Halloween across the country, the cash registers rings as the spooks come out to play. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

I asked some of my own friends what scares them, and got some interesting — or less bizarre, anyway — responses, like my friend Desmond, who wrote, “Drowning or out of control fire. Basically losing control of a situation.” I can see that.
On the other hand, my friend Darren returned to the real world, writing, “Evangelicals, large crowds of people, and Rick Scott.” Okay, we’re back to reality-is-scarier-than-the-supernatural, I suppose.
It’s interesting to think that we all have our fears, and phobias, and irrational worries, some of them grounded in the real world, some not so much — and yet once a year, around October, we turn our fears into a hot commercial product called Halloween that becomes very big business, particularly here in Central Florida with its lavish theme parks. We all love a good scare, as long as it’s a safe one.
By the way, I did ask Brek to answer my Halloween question, and tell me what scares him.
He wrote back: “Halloween questions.”
Now that is scary.

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