Jimmy Starline and Steve Howard are at the end of their spaceport ropes if this latest Spaceport Camden Press Release is what they’re wasting their time and our money on. They announced on Monday that Camden has entered into a "Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore commercial astronaut training facilities near the proposed Spaceport Camden."
Opifex Global CEO Barton Bollfrass has never worked for NASA or any commercial human spaceflight company. Apparently, he was once a Navy diver. Bollfrass demonstrating his company's horizontal zero gravity Astronaut training equipment:
Opifex Global’s opened an “astronaut construction worker” training facility in Texas! Camden's press release indicates he plans to open a similar facility at Spaceport Camden:
Dixie Divers was a SCUBA shop in Atlanta that built a similar tank in 1971, except it was much larger at 16-feet in diameter. And it was also 6-FEET DEEPER and built in-ground so students didn't have to use a man-lift. Camden County already has a good dive shop with an indoor pool. Is the rack of Opifex Global coveralls with US flags and the yellow bump hats work clothes for space?
Opifex Global is located at the exit of a Texas 4-lane, four miles off I-35 north of Austin. They share a sheet metal building and the same entrance with a self-storage company.
Here’s the story where Bollfrass talks with a television reporter about training blue collar workers for preparation to work on his “Gateway Project on or above the moon.”
Bollfrass explains to another reporter what his students get for $40,000. His water immersion tank can simulate weightlessness but he never describes to the viewers how training in a non-pressurized dive suit duplicates the clumsy maneuverability of a pressurized space suit. Bollfrass doesn't divulge that employment positions or rocket rides may not exists for decades for the souls who get his SpaceJack diploma. Has he had any paying students? Does anyone believe that SpaceX, NASA, or Blue Origin will send their astronauts to a third party trainer?
Mr. Bollfrass comes with a film background. Here’s the short feature he directed:
And Astronaut trainer Bollfrass was a video and lighting technician on this not-rated flick:
Here’s a review of that movie:
“A bunch of horrible actresses with loads of poor-quality plastic surgery spend 80 minutes prancing around acting stupid. There's almost no plot, the writing is horrific, the camera work is even worse, and the girls aren't even much to look at thanks to the cheap 16mm film and terrible lighting. I can't even imagine why someone would use film in 2011 or bother making a cheap skin flick when broadband internet and HD porn already existed.”
IN THE SPACE INDUSTRY:
We strongly suggest you read this 2019 Opifex Global interview Q&A with NASAWATCH:
Keith Cowing is a legitimate space industry journalist and he could not determine that Opifex is a legitimate operation.
Question and Answer #8 in the first set of Q&A tells us mostly what we need to know:
NASAWATCH 8. Why can't/won't you name your faculty members? Who are the astronauts? What astronaut training curriculum in particular of NASA's did you adapt? Did NASA give you the curriculum if so how did you obtain NASA's astronaut training curriculum materials - did you ask for them, file a FOIA, buy these things from NASA?
OPIFEX GLOBAL: Our faculty consists of contract instructors and safety divers that get activated during training. In 2014, I received permission to speak with NASA about their training program. After a NSA clearance check I was granted permission to speak with some of their astronauts and trainers. We agreed with the NSA to not disclose names. I hope that's understandable.
Cowling makes the following statement in the midpoint of his column:
My response to the latest series of Q&A:
"FWIW I have more than a passing personal knowledge of astronaut and expeditionary training and space ops - with 35 years in one space-related job or another at NASA and in the private sector. I am not certain how you can run an astronaut certification program when you refuse to identify the educational institution(s) and faculty involved in your certification and training or how anyone requiring certification of a prospective astronaut would have any idea what your certification means. As for your website - it has more pictures and words but still lacks the basics that a prospective student/client would need to determine that you actually have the ability to do what you claim to be able to do. Just sayin'. Also - why did you need a NSA security check to talk to NASA about astronaut training? I'd be astonished to learn that the names of astronaut instructors is in any way classified since this stuff is all public knowledge. Some of them are long time friends of mine. "
After Vector Space and ABL Aerospace, Steve Howard proves once again that there are no established, substantive companies knocking on his door. Six years into the project, and he claims we are "just seeing the beginning of the demand."
“Private Spaceflight training was one of the targeted industries identified by Astralytical in the Mission Possible report released in November of 2017,” said County Administrator and Spaceport Project lead, Steve Howard. “We are just seeing the beginning of the demand for the innovation and research park that will accompany Spaceport Camden,” added Howard.
Spaceport Camden attracts all the finest. The last line of the County's press release pulls all the main characters, except Camden's spaceport subject matter expert Andrew Nelson, together:
“[Camden] County officials, executives from Opifex Global and the real estate development team at Organic Code Development LLC look forward to working together to make commercial astronaut training a reality in Camden County.”
Did Starline or Howard conduct even one-second’s investigation about this Astronaut training school? The fact that they’ve sent a taxpayer-funded press release out on this "achievement" shows how desperate they are. Or that they finally understand that Spaceport Camden is a JOKE!
PS: Here’s Bollfrass’ startup Chief Operating Officer went to Space Camp as a young girl! She also took aerospace engineering coursework at the University of Michigan before getting her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas, Austin.
Wasn't April Fools Day last month?