Space Coast leaders concerned Sen. Nelson is shooting Florida in the foot

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

Space Coast leaders are concerned that a compromise NASA funding bill being advanced by Florida Sen. Bill Nelson will hurt the state’s ability to be competitive in the commercial space sector, the Orlando Sentinel reports:

Of particular concern is the fact that Nelson — Florida’s main space supporter — would take away billions of dollars from commercial rocket and technology development that over the next decade would have diversified the aerospace industry in Florida and provided KSC with new jobs and prestige….

“We are afraid the compromise bill compromises Florida’s long-term interests,” said Dale Ketcham, director of the University of Central Florida’s Space Research and Technology Institute….

Frank DiBello, the president of Space Florida, the state’s aerospace development body, is not pleased. “We don’t want to sacrifice Florida seed corn for an increased R&D role to be politically expedient and save jobs for Utah and other states,” DiBello told a Brevard County jobs-development meeting Saturday.

“The Senate bill kills outright the promise of a real R&D opportunity for KSC. It’s not good for Florida. I don’t know who Bill Nelson is listening to, but it’s not his constituents,” DiBello said.

Ketcham said that Brevard today is like Detroit in the 1960s: home to a labor-intensive, single-product industry. The president’s plan held out the possibility of turning the region into an aerospace “Silicon Valley” where many companies provide a broad range of products and services for the government and other customers, he said.

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