Florida Space Summit: Officials Told to Get With the Program or Become a Backwater

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

At Charlie Crist’s space summit, Florida space backers told to get with Obama’s program, let go of the past
Orlando Sentinel

A statewide space symposium convened by Gov. Charlie Crist in Orlando on Thursday heard repeatedly from industry executives, academics and experts that Florida had to adapt to a new U.S. national space policy that favored commercial rocket companies or give up its ambitions to be a world-class launch center.

“This [administration’s shift towards commercial space] should not come as surprise to anybody,” former Pennsylvania Republican Congressman Bob Walker told 200 participants. “For a decade there have been presidential commissions that have said that the way this country had to move was to commercial space…The question is are you going to embrace where the world is headed?”

Patti Grace Smith, a former Federal Aviation Administration official under President George W. Bush, was even more harsh, saying that Florida had to walk away from John F. Kennedy’s legacy and “step out from behind its past… if Florida is to remain a major space player.”

These were just some of the sobering notes struck at a conference punctuated by confusion, anger and fear as Florida faces the end of the space shuttle program later this year and uncertainty about what will replace it….

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