Florida Eyes Commercial Launch Base at KSC

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

The state of Florida is looking to develop a commercial launch site at NASA Kennedy Space Center that is most likely intended for use by SpaceX, Florida Today reports:

In a letter sent Thursday to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll requested 150 acres of undeveloped land at the northern end of the space center, near the former citrus community of Shiloh.

With Federal Aviation Administration approval, the proposed launch site would operate outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Air Force’s Eastern Range, which provides safety and tracking support for all launches from KSC and Cape Canaveral.

Carroll’s letter to Bolden does not mention any clients. Florida Today reports that SpaceX is not commenting on the matter.

However, in all likelihood, the move is related to SpaceX. The company is looking to establish a purely commercial launch base that would supplement its operations at government owned facilities at Cape Canaveral in Florida and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The company has been looking at sites in Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico.

Operating commercially within the jurisdiction of the Air Force’s Eastern Range is considered difficult because of the bureaucracy, outdated technology, and schedule issues resulting from other launches using the range. The Florida plan would solve that problem while allowing SpaceX to run both commercial and government launches in the same geographical location.

An environmental review is being performed on a seaside site near Brownsville, Texas, just north of the Mexican border. According to a recent story in the Brownsville Herald, local and state official in Texas have offered SpaceX an initial $6 million package to locate them. Meanwhile, Florida has offered $10 million in incentives. Officials said it was still early in the negotiations.

Read the full Florida Today story.