Celebrating Space Innovations On Florida Space Day

By: Carolyn Johnson

On May 25, 1961 President John F Kennedy challenged the nation to send a man to the moon and to bring him home safely back to earth before the end of the decade. Just eight years later, and after learning valuable lessons from many space missions, NASA launched Apollo 11 from Cape Kennedy, Florida- and made Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. the first humans to walk on the moon.

Florida’s aptly named Space Coast has a long -standing history of innovation and is a foundation of Florida’s economy.  Consider the following facts from a 2012 NASA report on Kennedy Space Center:

  • Overall NASA activities, and ones specifically related to Kennedy, across Florida contribute about $1.3 billion in wages and purchases to the state economy,
  • Direct spending, as well as the subsequent indirect income and job creation, results in a $2.15 billion total economic impact to Florida,
  • State-wide, NASA-related work force is16,545, with wages of $1.2 billion, resulting in about $263 million in federal, state and local taxes, and
  • For each Kennedy job, an additional job is created in the secondary market throughout the state.

In 2011, Kennedy Space Center launched the final mission of the American Space Shuttle Program, but Florida’s space program remains strong. The additions of NASA’s Exploration Ground Processing, Ground Systems Development and Operations Program and Commercial Crew Program, as well as with new space research, technology projects and the agency’s Launch Services Program will continue to strengthen Florida’s economy, create jobs and bring new innovations to our state.

Florida Chamber members like Harris Corporation, Craig Technologies, SpaceFlorida, Lockheed Martin and more are working to strengthen Florida’s leadership in space exploration by investing in technological innovations and R&D. And in 2014, Boeing and SpaceX were both awarded contracts from NASA for the development of spacecraft that will be able to take astronauts to the International Space Station beginning in 2017.

The impact of Florida’s space industry cannot be denied. Nearly 500 aerospace companies make up Florida’s $9 billion space industry- the third largest space industry in the nation.

“Florida continues to transform the business of space,” said Andy Allen, former astronaut and Florida Space Day 2015 Chair. “Space operations and facility upgrades are progressing at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station including commercial operations in sub-orbital and low-Earth Orbit, as well as national program initiatives involving Orion and the Space Launch System for deep space human exploration.”

As we celebrate Florida Space Day on March 25, we celebrate Florida’s history as well as Florida’s aerospace future. During the day, industry leaders will meet with Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature to discuss Florida’s changing space industry. At the Florida Chamber, we will continue to support both civil and commercial projects to ensure Florida remains a leader in America’s space industry. And as our space industry grows and shifts, we are reminded of why the Florida Chamber Advocates for innovation and continued growth in this industry for Florida’s future:

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” –President John F. Kennedy