SPACE FLORIDA PRESS RELEASE
Today, NASA and Starfighters, Inc. announced the signing of a formal Space Act Agreement enabling Starfighters, a private aerospace company that operates high performance fighter aircraft, to fully utilize the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) to conduct flight operations providing commercial space flight training, support research and development, test and engineering for the benefit of the emerging commercial space industry, and to otherwise advance aerospace and space-related technology in Florida.
Space Florida and Starfighters began initial discussions in 2007 and officially partnered in 2008, when Space Florida reached an agreement for the aerospace company to house and maintain aircraft in the State-owned and operated Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) Hangar, located adjacent to the SLF.
â€œOur alliance with Space Florida is a natural fit,â€ said Rick Svetkoff, Starfighters President and Chief Pilot. â€œWe both want to see the commercial aerospace industry grow in Florida. With Space Floridaâ€™s assistance, we are making real strides toward that vision.â€
As part of the new agreement, Starfighters will operate its fleet of Lockheed F-104 Starfighters at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). Currently the company has four vehicles in the fleet, but anticipates adding five more in the coming months. The vehicles can simulate suborbital vehicle trajectories and provide both training and technology development for the reusable launch vehicle industry. Starfighters currently has 10 employees scattered across Florida. In the coming months, it will relocate these employees to KSC, and also expects to employ up to 20 additional highly-skilled workers to perform vehicle maintenance and other technical work at its KSC operations.
â€œWeâ€™re thrilled for Starfighters. This agreement with NASA-KSC exemplifies the gradual shift toward commercial space industry development, and is an example of a Florida-based company we were able to keep and help expand its operation in Florida,â€ noted Frank DiBello, Space Florida President. â€œWhile our state has always been known to excel at the launch of spacecraft, businesses like Starfighters will help prove that we have the capability to handle research and development, testing, engineering and training activities. We are delighted that it will also serve as a catalyst for additional business as well.â€
Space Florida and Starfighters are in negotiations to extend the original lease agreement at the RLV Hangar. As part of the alliance, Space Florida may also assist Starfighters in securing additional long-term funding to fully establish their operations and headquarters at KSC.
In a NASA press release today, KSC Director Robert Cabana stated, â€œThis agreement with Starfighters aligns well with NASAâ€™s mission and national space policy direction to support and enable the U.S. commercial space industry.â€
The aerospace company is also currently in discussions with NASA and other government users to provide flight test services under Starfighters recently awarded blanket purchase agreement from NASAâ€™s Airborne Science Program from the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
Starfighters has previously flown several operational test and evaluation flights from the SLF, which included NASA sponsored Pathfinder Trajectories for Orbital and Sub-Orbital Flight Environmental Impact Studies, Autonomous Flight Safety Systems with INS and GPS Termination Measuring payloads and Station High Sensitivity Ocean Research Experiments.
Starfightersâ€™ landmark agreement with NASA-KSC sets the groundwork for additional commercial opportunities to come to KSC in the future.
Starfighters was founded in 1995 by President and Chief Pilot Rick Svetkoff. The company operates a fleet of Lockheed F-104 Starfighters, a supersonic fighter aircraft that had a 50-year operational history with 15 countries including the U.S. and Canada.
Starfighters is currently gearing up for planned flight test work in 2010 and finalizing their Suborbital Space Flight Training syllabus and will conduct flights from the NASA Space Shuttle Landing Facility at John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The 4 day training syllabus will be the most comprehensive available to the public.