Why We Continue to be the Space Coast
by George White
In spite of the long-held assumption that the end of the Space Shuttle program would mean mothballs for Kennedy Space Center – and the North Brevard economy – the American space program still lives on the Space Coast.
There are now – and will continue to be fewer – employees at KSC. There is a renewed sense of vigor in several programs, including the development of commercial space, the design of a new crew cabin to transport humans in space, and plans for a new heavy-lift rocket system to boost the program back out into deep space. “Florida will continue to be a home for the nation’s space exploration program as conducted by NASA, and KSC will be the ground node for the International Space Station. You’ll see commercial rockets going back and forth for cargo and crew and all kinds of science and research experiments,” commented Space Florida President Frank DiBello.
Perhaps Stronger than Before
The biggest success so far has been the agreement with Space Florida to use three facilities – OPF3; Space Shuttle Main Engine Processing Facility; and the Processing Control Center – to support, manufacture and test Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation (CST-100) spacecraft. This agreement has the potential of creating up to 550 jobs along the Space Coast over the next few years.
“The model for the future is one of diversity, whereas in the shuttle era the center was entirely supported by a single, large government program; the new future will see a vibrant mix of government and commercial activities encompassing many aspects of the space industry. This will ultimately make KSC stronger than ever before,” Joyce Riquelme, manager of the Center Planning and Development Office for NASA, explained.
Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast has helped with enhancement and streamlining of building and site permitting throughout Brevard County and facilitation of the first-ever Space Act agreement between Kennedy Space Center and an economic development organization.
Get Ready and Chances Come
Locals have been working on the solution (to post-Shuttle layoffs) since 2006, making sure no stone has been left unturned toward attracting new aviation and aerospace industries to the area.
DiBello was selected in May 2009 to lead the organization which serves as the single point of contact for aerospace-related economic development in Florida. “It really does help to have a front door to industry. It allows us to put together the right resources, to build a network of support, and to know what assets we have in the state,” he said.