While other industries are looking to take flight , Space Florida is keeping its feet firmly on the ground, expanding its infrastructure to support the growing commercial space industry.
The organization began the first phase of development at the Launch and Landing Facility at Cape Canaveral earlier this year. Designed to attract aerospace industry businesses to the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, the more than one-mile-long corridor project will provide power, water and communications services, opening development opportunities for companies looking to join the commercial space ecosystem, according to a media release.
“Construction of the utility corridor is the next step in attracting commercial aerospace to the Cape Canaveral Spaceport,” said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello, in the release.
Dale Ketchum, vice president of Government and External Relations at Space Florida, said the project is part of a growing aerospace industry footprint in the Sunshine State.
“This is an effort to stay ahead of the game so we will have land available for development when it comes,” he said.
Ketchum said the project is scheduled to be finished in 2023, but that could be accelerated based on the arrival of tenants who might need the space sooner.
“I think what is important in this is we wanted to intentionally move away from just relying on the federal government, but also we were traditionally just a launch and landing facility and the state was interested in moving back up the value chain to actual assembly and manufacturing to engineering, design and research and development,” he said.
Ketchum said opening up the spaceport area to a wider variety of commercial aerospace companies will help sustain the facility and broaden its market appeal beyond government sponsored missions.
“Markets are going to go through cycles for us like they do for everyone else,” he said. “Having the diversity of customers and business activity is the best way to defend against market cycles.”
In 2015, NASA transferred the operations and maintenance of the former Shuttle Landing Facility to Space Florida. The organization received a Launch Site Operators license from the Federal Aviation Administration in 2018 and more recently secured a Reentry Site Operators License from the FAA, according to the release.
The Launch and Landing Facility’s 15,000-foot runway is one of the largest runways in the world making the region a leader in aerospace industry development. And since the State of Florida designates space as an official mode of transportation, the Florida Department of Transportation has worked with Space Florida to develop the facilities.
“This is another critical investment as Florida leads the way in commercial space development creating statewide economic opportunities for generations to come,” said FDOT Secretary Kevin Thibault, in the release.
That includes the Greater Daytona Region, Ketchum said.
“I think Volusia County is going to benefit from the evolution of the Launch and Landing Facility as much as Brevard County,” he said.