Frank DiBello, head of Space Florida, says the state needs to do more to attract skilled workers for the aerospace sector.

The head of Space Florida says the state needs to do more to build up an aerospace workforce.

Frank DiBello said in a luncheon speech Tuesday that a shortage of trained workers could become the “Achilles’ heel” in the state’s efforts to attract space companies.

That could lead companies to hire workers from each other, a “zero-sum game” that won’t help grow the state’s economy, DiBello warned.

He said Space Florida is working on several educational and training initiatives. [Florida Today]

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SpaceX said Tuesday that it has performed a successful static-fire test of the core booster of the first Falcon Heavy rocket. The company released a brief video of the test, performed last week at its McGregor, Texas, test site. That center core will be joined to two side boosters, both previously flown Falcon 9 first stages, and an upper stage for a demonstration mission planned for no sooner than late summer. The first flight of the Falcon Heavy has been delayed by several years, in part because the company found designing the center booster core more difficult than originally envisioned. [SpaceNews]

A proposed new “launch tax” in California is, in fact, a revision to existing corporate income tax regulations that provides certainty to companies. A report last week brought attention to the proposed regulation, which would calculate taxes on launch profits based on the number of launches companies perform in the state and the orbits to which those launches delivered their payloads. Launch companies support the plan as it gives them clarity regarding their tax burden. [SpaceNews]

In-flight connectivity company Gogo isn’t interested in owning its own satellites. The company, which provides internet access for aircraft, currently leases capacity on existing satellites. Last month, it announced it was leasing all the capacity on AMC-4, an SES satellite launched in 1999; that satellite will shift orbital locations to provide coverage over the U.S. West Coast and the Pacific. Gogo officials said that they have no plans to own their own satellites, though, believing it’s more cost-effective to lease capacity on other satellites. [SpaceNews]

Shares in Aerojet Rocketdyne fell Tuesday as the company missed profit forecasts. The company reported after the markets closed Monday a net income of $5.9 million on $405.3 million in revenue for the first quarter of 2017, up from net income of $5.1 million on $356.9 million in revenue in the same quarter of 2016. That net profit of 8 cents a share was lower than financial analysts’ projections of 11 cents a share for the quarter. Shares in the company, which had risen 23 percent since the beginning of the year, dropped 4 percent in trading Tuesday. [AP]

NASA is set to perform a spacewalk outside the International Space Station Friday. During the spacewalk, astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer will replace an avionics box used by experiments mounted outside the station and install a data connector for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer experiment to help plan for future maintenance of that instrument, among other tasks. The spacewalk was planned for early April but postponed because of the delayed launch of a Cygnus cargo spacecraft carrying components needed for the EVA. [NASA]

Japan’s space agency has started testing the main engine for its next-generation rocket. JAXA started tests of the LE-9 engine at its Tanegashima Space Center late last month, with those tests scheduled to continue through June. The engine will be used in the first stage of the H-3 rocket, a successor to the existing H-2 series with greater payload capacity and lower costs. The first H-3 launch is scheduled for 2020. [Nikkei]

A NASA balloon carrying an astrophysics experiment has splashed down in the South Pacific after developing a leak. The “super pressure” balloon lifted off from New Zealand last month for what was hoped to be a flight of up to 100 days to collect cosmic ray data. However, the balloon developed a leak within a few days, causing its altitude to drop at night. NASA had hoped the balloon could stay aloft until reaching South America, but a continued decay in altitude led controllers to abort the mission and deliberately bring the balloon down in the ocean to avoid the risk of an uncontrolled descent. Scientists were able to collect 60 gigabytes of data during the flight. [Stuff]

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...