Good news for Space Florida. In late June, NASA announced the selection of Space Florida to maintain and operate the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at Kennedy Space Center. The historic 15,000-foot-long, 300-foot-wide launch and landing strip hosted 78 Shuttle landings over the past 30 years. Now, Space Florida President Frank DiBello hopes the facility provides a valuable resource for growing commercial aerospace businesses with an interest in Florida.
“The SLF provides a unique capability for new and expanding suborbital launch providers, unmanned aerial vehicle operators and other aerospace-related businesses to thrive in a location that maximizes the resources of the Space Center and Eastern Range operations,” DiBello says. “We look forward to working with NASA-KSC leadership in the coming months to finalize the details of this transaction in a way that will provide the greatest benefit to incoming commercial aerospace businesses.”
Space Florida was created in 2006 to strengthen Florida’s position as the global leader in aerospace research, investment, exploration and commerce. As Florida’s spaceport authority and aerospace development group, the organization works to attract and expand the “next generation of space industry businesses” by touting a highly trained workforce and proven infrastructure, among other benefits.
Specifically, Space Florida creates economic opportunities by arranging financial incentives and providing start-up and relocation support; providing financial and business consulting on business formation, relocation and venture development; providing resources, retraining and access to experienced professional workforce; developing targeted infrastructure and facilities; and researching and developing opportunities that enable target industry growth.
NASA issued a request for information to industry in 2012 to identify new and innovative ways to use the facility for current and future commercial and government mission activities. Space Florida was selected because its proposal for potential use of the facility is closely aligned with Kennedy’s vision for creating a multiuser spaceport.
The SLF at KSC is the newest addition to Florida’s commercial, horizontal launch and landing-capable spaceports network, joining Cecil Field Spaceport in Jacksonville, which was licensed as a horizontal, suborbital launch site by the FAA in January 2010.