Spring 2010:

May 14, '10 "Space, What's in it for Me?". Panelists: Frank DiBello, President Space Florida; James A. M. Muncy, Principal, PoliSpace, WDC; Jim Banke, President, MILA Solutions, LLC and host of Space Talk on WMMB-AM; Patrick Simpkins, NASA KSC Director of Engineering; moderated by Tony Gannon, Director of Education, Space Florida


"Space - What's in it for Me?" -- Why should we explore space? What are the benefits? Space exploration has yielded many benefits to society and has a tremendous impact on our lives. From the computers on our desk to the GPS in our car, space technology significantly enhances our daily lives by improving our ability to communicate and access information. Space technology also plays a critical role in our nation's economic and military strategies. What benefits will space exploration yield in the future? Learn how space exploration and technology will continue to impact our lives and how you can be involved in mankind's efforts to reach for the stars!

Frank Di Bello
Space Florida

Frank Di Bello, interim Space Florida President and CEO, was selected in May 2009 to lead the organization, which serves as the single point of contact for aerospace-related economic development in Florida. In this position, Mr. Di Bello develops and executes programs designed to retain, grow and expand aerospace business in Florida. He also focuses on the development of Florida aerospace workforce retention and vendor appreciation programs.

Mr. Di Bello has more than 40 years of direct aerospace and defense industry-related experience. In addition to his current role at Space Florida, Di Bello is the founding partner for Aerospace Capital Partners, an infrastructure investment fund in formation, investing in aerospace, technology and telecommunications initiatives. He is also the president and ceo of a strategic advisory and investment banking firm serving the aerospace and high-technology industry. He also served as president and chief executive officer of Florida's Aerospace Finance Corporation, established by the Florida legislature to assist financing the needs of new and established companies applying aerospace technologies to space, aviation and defense markets. The Corporation's goal was to finance aerospace growth in order to expand the presence, depth and quality of the employment industry in the state.

Formerly, Mr. Di Bello served as the founding officer and vice chairman of SpaceVest Management Group, Inc., the sponsoring organization of the SpaceVest family of funds, and as managing director of several SpaceVest Venture Capital Funds. As a partner, he structured initiatives for strategic development of portfolio companies and managed portfolio investments.

Prior to joining SpaceVest, Mr. Di Bello was the founder and managing partner of KPMG Peat Marwick's Commercial Space and Advanced Technologies Practice. He conceived and implemented this specialized practice focused on the strategic development and financing of businesses applying advanced technologies to space and telecommunications.

Over the course of his career, Di Bello was appointed by NASA to serve on a number of critical space commissions and committees. As such, he assumed responsibility for overseeing a five-year national outreach program to support NASA's mission of stimulating industrial interest in the Space Station and in space-related research, development and applications. Di Bello has also participated in numerous strategic, financial, and market assessments for multinational space industry clients.

In 1985, Di Bello received the Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Defense Department's highest civilian honor, for his work as president of the United Services Organization (USO). He was also founder of the Space Business Roundtable in Washington D.C.

Mr. Di Bello taught at the Defense Systems Management College and International Space University. He received his BS in Mathematics from Villanova University and did graduate study work at American University and George Washington University.

Mr. Di Bello has served on numerous defense and space governmental and industry-related boards and Commissions, and is a frequent industry speaker and advocate.

James A. M. Muncy
PoliSpace, WDC

Jim Muncy has worked as a space policy professional for nearly 30 years, including two "tours of duty" on Capitol Hill and another serving President Reagan's Science Advisor. An independent consultant for the last ten years, Muncy works for a diverse set of clients in the commercial space transportation industry and government.

In 2009, as part of his work for long-time client XCOR Aerospace, Muncy helped staff XCOR's CEO, Jeffrey Greason, in his service on the White House Committee on Human Spaceflight Plans (aka "the Augustine Commission").

Earlier this decade Muncy led two successful space industry lobbying campaigns: winning enactment of the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-492), and securing an amendment to the Iran Nonproliferation Act so NASA could buy commercial space goods and services which included Russian content. He also worked for the first two American "Spaceflight Participants" who purchased trips to the International Space Station. He has also provided policy research and communications services to a number of advanced Air Force military space projects.

A long-time leader in the space advocacy community, Muncy co-founded the Space Frontier Foundation in 1988 and served as its Chairman of the Board for six years, and has served on the Board frequently since then. He is a frequent speaker, writer, and media source on space policy issues and civil, commercial, and military space programs.

Muncy holds an MS in Space Studies from the Center for Aerospace Sciences at the University of North Dakota and a BA from the University of Virginia, where he was an Echols Scholar.

Jim Banke
MILA Solutions, LLC
Listen to "Space Talk with Jim Banke" Saturdays at 2 pm ET on WMMB-AM

Jim Banke is an award-winning, veteran communicator with some 25 years of experience as an aerospace journalist, writer, producer, consultant, analyst and project manager. Previous employers include Florida Today, Space.com, the Space Foundation and SAIC.

As co-creator of Space Online, Banke was an early pioneer in online news reporting. While at the Space Foundation he helped manage the Coalition for Space Exploration, an industry team dedicated to winning support for space exploration. His expertise and experience with the space program was recognized in 2006 by Gov. Jeb Bush, who appointed him to the Governor's Commission on the Future of Aeronautics and Space in Florida, which led to the creation of Space Florida. Banke was honored by NASA in 2007 with a Distinguished Public Service Medal.

He is now owner and president of MILA Solutions, LLC, providing strategic communications, media relations and project management services to the aerospace industry. His customers have included NASA's Aeronautics Directorate, Space Florida, the Technological Research and Development Agency, the Coalition for Space Exploration, the Space Coast EDC, and Delaware North Parks Services, among others.

Patrick Simpkins
Director of Engineering for NASA
John F. Kennedy Space Center

Patrick Simpkins is the director of Engineering for NASA at the John F. Kennedy Space Center. In this position, Simpkins leads a group of engineers from multiple disciplines in the design, development and operations of spaceflight hardware and ground systems assigned to the Kennedy Space Center.

Simpkins began his NASA career in 1983 as a shuttle engineer and served in various roles of increasing responsibility in the Space Shuttle Program for 15 years. After realizing his strengths in helping others maximize their abilities, he pursued an education in human resource management and served as KSC's Personnel Officer. After completing the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program, he worked in human resources at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., for two years.

Simpkins has been a recipient of a number of awards and leadership development programs throughout his career. He was selected to the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program in 2001 where he received executive level education from the University of Michigan and as a Harvard Senior Executive Fellow. His developmental assignments included a role as project manager in the Intelligent Synthesis Environment Program at the Langley Research Center and as a facilitator at NASA Headquarters in the design and development of the NASA Strategic Human Capital Plan enabling NASA to achieve the first "green" rating in Human Capital on the President's Management Agenda. Awards have included the Astronauts' Silver Snoopy Award and the Exceptional Achievement medal.

Simpkins helped modernize NASA's human resources information systems and led the design, development and implementation of the agency's competency management system. Other accomplishments have included leading the human resources community's involvement in the e-Payroll project, enabling integration of various processes and tools for improved HR Office service, designing and implementing organizations for consolidating engineering at KSC that were the most sweeping cultural and operational changes since the Apollo Program.

Simpkins holds a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., and a master's in human resource management from Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Fla. He received a doctorate in business administration from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Simpkins and his wife Beth, his high school sweetheart, reside in Merritt Island, Fla. They have one child, Dainius, 12.

Tony Gannon
Director of Education
Space Florida

Tony Gannon is the Director of Education at Space Florida, Cape Canaveral where he spearheaded the development of the Space Florida Academy workforce programs as well as a KSC summer internship program for Florida undergraduates. He works very closely with the Florida Space Grant Consortium and NASA-KSC, as well as many of the KSC contractors in securing both internship and long-term employment for graduates in the aerospace business. Gannon is a member of the Advisory Committee for the NASA / Florida Space Grant Consortium, as well as an education advisor to the Florida Department of Education's Office of Math & Science (OMS) Committee.

In January 2010, he was selected by the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) to serve as a volunteer "Solar System Ambassador". Gannon graduated from University College Dublin (UCD), with a degree in commerce. He took up employment with the Irish Government in the Department of Finance. While working for the State, he completed several post Graduate courses in communications, public speaking and Macro Economics at the Dublin School of Economics.