Florida Today reports that officials are moving forward with the conversion of the Shuttle Landing Facility for commercial use:
NASA has applied for a federal permit to dredge and fill 40 acres of wetlands that link to the Indian River Lagoon to pave the way for commercial spacecraft that could launch and land where the space shuttle once touched down.
The application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is an early step toward readying the old shuttle strip for commercial launches, as NASA enters negotiations to have Space Florida take over the shuttle runway.
Space Florida — the agency responsible for promoting aerospace in the Sunshine State — wants to build new infrastructure at the former shuttle landing strip to support future commercial spaceflight endeavors such as XCOR Aerospace and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s planned Stratolaunch Systems. Those efforts deliver suborbital rockets by taking off and landing like planes, rather than via vertical launch pads.
“Space Florida can help finance the infrastructure to run power and utilities and stormwater a long distance out there to accommodate future growth,” said Dale Ketcham, director of strategic alliances for Space Florida.
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