FSDC Urges Florida Legislators to Focus on Key Space Priorities

Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center
Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center

FSDC PR — The Florida Space Development Council has urged elected officials to provide more support to the space industry during the ongoing Florida Legislative Session. FSDC President Gabriel Rothblatt asked Senate and House leaders to take steps to diversify the state’s involvement in space research and technology development; continue financing programs for space industry growth; fund conversion of the Shuttle Landing Facility for new programs; establish a high school space education academy; and fund a demonstration program for space tourism and point-to-point spaceflight.

The five issues were prioritized by FSDC’s membership through an online survey. They were conveyed in letters to the Senate President, House Speaker, and appropriation subcommittee chairs.

A copy of the letter is below.

Dear _________:

The Florida Space Development Council, a statewide chapter of the National Space Society, has been following the progress of space-related issues during the Legislative Session. While we support most of the initiatives now be-fore the Legislature, we are concerned that too little is being done to re-establish Florida’s space industry leadership. We polled our membership to prioritize several ways we think the Legislature should act to prevent more states from overtaking Florida. We ask that you consider the following ideas during the legislative process.

  • One of Florida’s biggest weaknesses is its narrow involvement in space science and research. To establish Florida as a leader in aerospace innovation, the state should dedicate recurring funds (managed by Space Florida) for matching research grants, and fund university-based space programs.
  • One of Florida’s most successful tools for aerospace job creation has been its ability to provide innovative financing through Space Florida. The state should provide stable, recurring funding for Space Florida to finance high-employment aerospace industry projects.
  • NASA’s transfer of the Shuttle Landing Facility presents a unique opportunity to attract new types of spaceflight business, but investment is needed to prepare it for new users. Initial funding was approved last year, with plans for a second-year appropriation in 2015. The Legislature should now provide the second year of funding.
  • Embry-Riddle receives annual funding for a network of high school aerospace academies. The state should encourage the university to establish space-focused academies in the vicinity of its spaceports.
  • Point-to-point spaceflight will be an outgrowth of space tourism for high-value cargo and passenger transport. With multiple spaceports, Florida should demonstrate the operational and regulatory viability of point-to-point spaceflight, so its spaceports can declare themselves ready to support both tourism and cargo spaceflight. Florida’s funding for space tourism marketing should include a high-profile mock spaceflight demonstration between Jacksonville and the Space Coast.

Most of these items can be accomplished without new legislation, and some with simple proviso language added to existing budget items. Of course, we recommend that these items be supported without raiding funds needed for Space Florida operations, since the agency’s budget is too small.

We appreciate your service in Tallahassee and stand ready to answer any questions you might have about the priority items we’ve shared. I can be reached at ___________.

Sincerely,

 

Gabriel Rothblatt
President
Florida Space Development Council