The Forecast for Florida: Cloudy With Scattered Sunshine

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

Amid the gloom cast by mass layoffs and the arrival of the final space shuttle external tank last week, the clouds did part over the Sunshine State to reveal a brighter future when the House of Representatives passed the Senate’s version of NASA’s authorization bill.

Although the measure doesn’t include everything that the Obama Administration proposed for this key electoral state, Florida officials seem fairly satisfied with it. In addition to providing a clear direction for NASA, many of the bill’s provisions line up closely with the state’s approach to the post-shuttle era, which focuses on diversifying its aerospace base and commercial space opportunities.

SPACE FLORIDA PRESS RELEASE

On September 29, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. This bill, previously passed by the Senate, will now go to the President for signature. The compromise bill holds numerous benefits for Florida, including:

  • Extension of ISS utilization through 2020 – Florida will play a key role, as a significant number of scientific payloads bound for the ISS are prepared for flight in Florida. Additionally, sustaining engineering activities and resupply missions are managed here.
  • A focus on commercial crew and cargo will ultimately benefit Florida, as a majority of these missions are anticipated to originate within the state. Additionally, continued strong commercial growth is anticipated in the near-term for Florida.
  • Investment in robotics and other advanced technologies benefit Florida, whose highly-skilled workforce has the capability to develop these technologies for new civil space programs.
  • An additional Shuttle launch in 2011 will extend employment opportunities for Florida’s KSC workforce.
  • 21st Century Spaceport Infrastructure Funding will assist Florida in building and refurbishing critical infrastructures to accommodate future vehicles.

“I thank Congress for their hard work on this bill, and I am pleased that we now have a clear direction for NASA, which will result in a more defined role for Florida,” noted Space Florida President Frank DiBello. “This compromise does hold promise for our nation and our state, at a time when we are implementing key strategies for Florida’s civil, defense and commercial growth in space. Now it is up to Congress to ensure the plan is funded adequately.”

In addition to these Florida-related benefits, the new bill authorizes increased overall funding for NASA at $19 Billion, a 14.7% increase from FY2010 funding.