Boeing is Building the Future Here, Now

By Chris Ferguson, Boeing Starliner Astronaut Test Pilot, Former NASA Astronaut and Space Shuttle Commander


Imagine a world where you can look up at the sky from Earth and name at least one person you know living in space.

At Boeing, that dream is becoming more of a reality as we build the future here and now. We’ve already sent probes beyond the influence of our own solar system, we’ve celebrated lunar footsteps, and with our international partners we’ve built an incredible laboratory in low-Earth orbit where people representing 15 nations have been living and working continuously for almost two decades. NASA, with the support of Boeing, has a strong foundation of experience that will help make the aspirations of setting foot – and one day living – on distant worlds realized within our lifetime.

I’ll soon be going back to space with two of my NASA colleagues, flying aboard Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner on a flight test to the International Space Station. We’ll be returning a critical crew launch capability to the United States for the first time since I commanded the last Space Shuttle mission in 2011.

Our flight aboard the Starliner represents more than just a single mission or a single destination, but a redefining of the space frontier. It’s a mission to never lose our foothold in space while we continue to reach farther than ever before. And it’s a mission to bring more people than ever before to this unbelievable destination above Earth’s atmosphere as we work toward a thriving commercial space ecosystem.

While my heart lies with the space exploration segment of aerospace, I’m fortunate to work for the largest aerospace company in the world. As a retired U.S. Navy captain, I’m proud to be a part of a company that continues to engineer new technologies in all aspects of aviation and aerospace right here in Florida, and around the globe.

Whetzer it’s training commercial pilots and technicians at the company’s largest training center in Miami, providing support to Special Operations Forces in Fort Walton Beach, modifying military aircraft in Jacksonville, or building the future of space exploration on the Space Coast, Boeing and its Florida workforce of more than 1,700 are leading the way.

I look at the work Boeing and other companies are accomplishing in and for space exploration, aerospace, and aviation here and now; and I see these efforts fueling excitement and sparking curiosity in what we have yet to innovate in our industry and explore in the universe. The possibilities for both are limitless.


Florida is a Premier Aviation and Aerospace Location

Florida’s unique history of spaceflight, an entire aviation industry, existing workforce and infrastructure, and unique geography continues to help grow existing Florida companies and attract new and exciting private ventures.

If you believe Florida’s aviation and aerospace industry is essential, sign the petition today.

Celebrating Space Innovations On Florida Space Day

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