Monday, March 9, 2009

Florida asked to promote home-grown Space

Orlando Sentinel calls on state legislature not to lose Florida's edge:

We think: Legislators need to stop the decline of the space industry in Florida

Florida legislators now meeting in their annual session are understandably focused on trying to keep the state afloat amid the worst fiscal crisis in decades. But that's not a good excuse for overlooking an economic calamity looming for the state's Space Coast.

Tallahassee, we have a problem.

Ever since 2004, when the Bush administration unveiled a plan that called for retiring the space shuttle in 2010, it's been clear that thousands of high-skill, high-wage jobs at Cape Canaveral would be at risk. Now the Obama administration has reaffirmed the plan to ground the shuttle, and the worst-case scenario may be materializing.

Last week the Sentinel reported that the federal Missile Defense Agency is looking to hire thousands of top engineers for its new base of operations in Huntsville, Ala. NASA's shuttle contractor, United Space Alliance, already is working with the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce to pluck engineers from the shuttle work force that will be idled next year.

If the Space Coast loses this talent, it will seriously undermine the region's prospects of attracting private space-related investment and recovering from the shuttle's retirement. It also could leave NASA short of the skilled work force it will need to run its next rocket program, Constellation, set to start launching from the cape in 2015.

The impact will be felt far beyond the Space Coast. Space is a $2 billion industry in Florida, supporting jobs in 47 of 67 counties. They're some of the best jobs in a state that still relies too heavily on low-wage work.

It's little wonder that more than a dozen other states, as well as a growing list of other countries, are aggressively targeting space-related investments.

Read the rest of the Editorial HERE.

Embry-Riddle seeks space institute
Orlando Business Journal

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