Thursday, January 31, 2013

Space Florida Plans Ahead

This morning's issue of Florida Today has an update on Space Florida plans to lease Kennedy Space Center facilities to the private sector.

According to the article, “Several companies have expressed interest in a proposed state-run commercial launch complex at the north end of Kennedy Space Center,” an old farm community called Shiloh.

NASA has not rejected the idea outright, but in a recent letter declined to transfer the land to Space Florida.

The agency is “assessing available options” to help the state achieve its goals, according to a statement provided to FLORIDA TODAY.

“There are many authorities that will allow us to support commercial launch activities — transferring land is only one of those mechanisms,” the statement continued. “KSC is fully supportive of the State’s initiative to support commercial space endeavors and NASA is committed to ensuring that all partnership opportunities are fully considered.”

SpaceX is assumed to be the most likely tenant, but the article indicates there may be others.

The article also updates the Space Florida request to take over management of KSC's runway, formally known as the Shuttle Landing Facility.

That request will be considered separately, but NASA already plans to select a new operator for the facility, and Space Florida is among those pursuing the job. [Space Florida senior vice president and chief operating officer Jim] Kuzma said a decision could come within six to eight weeks.

Space Florida also approved funding to complete renovation of the former orbiter hanger #3, to be occupied by Boeing for the CST-100 commercial crew vehicle, and other facilities for potential tenants.

Up to $5 million in Florida Department of Transportation funding, if secured this year as expected, will help transition another existing facility at KSC or Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Meeting materials provided to the board said the facility would be used as a “spacecraft, cargo, and crew processing facility for heavy lift launch of commercial satellites, space station cargo and ultimately commercial crew missions.”

Sierra Nevada is looking to lease KSC facilities for their Dream Chaser commercial crew vehicle, so this might refer to that potential partnership.

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