Titusville Plays an Important Role in Space Exploration

On Monday, April 2, 2012 - 22:40
When America sends the next generation of astronauts to the moon aboard NASA’s new Orion vehicle‚ the Titusville area will be poised to play yet another leading role in the history of space exploration. Orion‚ which is expected to undergo final assembly at nearby Kennedy Space Center‚ is part of a NASA program to send humans back to the moon early in the next decade‚ then onward to Mars and other destinations in the solar system. According to Mark Ryan‚ city man ager for the city of Titusville‚ the long association between the space industry‚ Titusville and North Brevard County continues to provide a strong economic base for the area. “There are more than 13‚000 people employed by the Kennedy Space Center‚ and many companies have been founded here to support the space industry‚” Ryan says. “The Titusville area has been rooted in research and technology development for many years.” Development of the Orion vehicle is taking place in conjunction with missions to complete NASA’s international space station using the space shuttle before it is retired in 2010. This transition‚ as well as a general shift in the space industry‚ has local economic development groups working overtime to capture new opportunities while mitigating potential gaps in employment. Lynda Weatherman‚ executive director of the Economic Development Commis­sion of Florida’s Space Coast‚ says the Orion vehicle will have a significant impact on future business opportunities for local and regional companies‚ as well as for businesses in other parts of the state. “We are working on capturing new NASA contract opportunities as related to the new vision for space exploration‚” Weatherman says‚ noting that total Kennedy Space Center and NASA spending in 2006 topped $1.6 billion in Brevard County. “This includes work related to both direct contractors as well as subcontractor opportunities.” Weatherman’s organization is also concentrating on new commercial space opportunities that exist with a variety of companies‚ including cutting-edge aerospace firms such as SpaceX and Rocketplane Kistler. “These are the next generation companies that can provide viable commercial space opportunities for our area‚” Weatherman says. “The EDC has and will continue to look for ways to bring assembly‚ processing and launch opportunities to the Space Coast.” On the state level‚ a new agency called Space Florida has been created to strengthen Florida’s role in space and aeronautics to maximize economic development and job creation throughout the state. According to Space Florida’s president‚ Steve Kohler‚ the state continues to build on the success of securing the Orion vehicle’s assembly at the Kennedy Space Center by working to capture a larger share of the supply chain for space vehicles and related equipment. “We want to broaden the state’s presence in the space industry beyond launch activity to include the research and development‚ design‚ manufacturing‚ assembly‚ testing‚ launch and servicing of space vehicles‚” Kohler says. “We also want to position Florida for global leader ship in new space markets‚ including the increasing integration of space with aviation and other technologies.”