Amid the gloom over the space shuttle’s retirement, there is some potentially good news for Florida’s Space Coast, which will bear the brunt of the economic pain. In his speech to the National Press Club on Friday, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said:
And speaking of those facilities at KSC and across the agency, we have had tremendous interest from our commercial space partners in re-using or leasing these assets – and are close to making some major announcements about them soon. The re-use of our unique NASA assets, like the Orbiter Processing Facilities, will help these companies keep their costs down and create jobs for the space industry of tomorrow.
Edward Ellegood of the FLORIDA SPACErePORT believes there could be a connection to recent actions by Space Florida, the government body that promotes aerospace in the Sunshine State:
Good guess that this is another one of the projects approved last month by Space Florida’s board of directors, investing millions of dollars to convert federal facilities at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport for commercial space operations.
Ellegood reports that one of those investments is to support SpaceX’s expansion:
Last month, Space Florida’s board of directors approved several infrastructure investments at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. One of those investments was apparently intended to meet SpaceX’s need for expansion at the spaceport. With limited room at a Launch Complex 40 building for horizontal processing of Falcon-9 rockets, and scant extra room in the same facility for work on Dragon capsules, SpaceX was looking at excess facilities within the CCAFS Industrial Area nearby. With support from Space Florida and the Air Force 45th Space Wing, SpaceX is now modifying the Delta Mission Checkout (DMCO) facility–which formerly supported Delta-2 rocket processing–for Falcon-9 operations.
Laid off workers might also look to another spaceport up north for jobs, as Bolden noted in his speech:
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport is taking shape at our Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. One of the first customers will be Orbital Sciences Corporation, with its Taurus II rocket.