Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Need for Speed

Florida Today reports that an unnamed aerospace company is looking at Titusville as one of four possible sites it might locate a rocket propulsion business.

Brevard County Manager Howard Tipton said Space Florida also is working up an economic incentive package for the company — the identity of which has not been made public for competitive reasons. Tipson said there also would be state-funded Qualified Targeted Industry cash incentives or tax breaks that are still to be determined.

Tipton said he is optimistic that the Florida, Brevard County and Titusville incentives will be competitive with the ones other communities are offering, and that the company will choose Titusville.

He said the region’s available aerospace work force, quality of life and proximity to Kennedy Space Center will be advantages in attracting the company — which local officials refer to by the code name “Project Speed” — to Titusville.

Edward Ellegood at the Florida SPACErePORT speculates on who might be behind Project Speed.

It will be a liquid propulsion operation, because solid rocket motors require wide-open spaces for explosive safety. That would eliminate ATK and their Liberty rocket program. It could be Yuzhnoye's Mayak program, which recently publicly announced their desire to launch and manufacture in the U.S. It could also be one of the companies considering the development of liquid-fuel strap-on rockets for NASA's heavy-lift Space Launch System, including either the Aerojet/Teledyne Brown team, or a Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne team

Then there's SpaceX, which may be outgrowing their California-based Falcon rocket factory as they develop their new heavy-lift Falcon-Heavy rocket. And how about Orbital Sciences Corp. with their Antares rocket, or Stratolaunch with their air-launch Falcon rocket? These seem unlikely. Finally there's Sierra Nevada, but I don't think they intend employ so many people with DreamChaser. I'm guessing it is either Yuzhnoye or one of companies pursuing SLS, probably the latter.

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