Neither NASA nor the Space Coast can afford to stand still. We must be aggressive in pursuing the next generation of space exploration – and the jobs and innovation that will accompany it. That’s why the Obama Administration is pressing forward with its ambitious plans for commercial space and deep space exploration, and it’s why the agreement we’ve reached with the State of Florida to re-use our Kennedy Space Center facilities is so important.
NASA has signed an agreement with Space Florida, the aerospace economic development agency of the state of Florida, to lease Kennedy’s Orbiter Processing Facility-3 (OPF3) to Boeing to manufacture and test the company’s Crew Space Transportation (CST-100) spacecraft. In addition, Boeing will be locating its commercial crew headquarters at Kennedy to take advantage of the center’s outstanding facilities and experienced workforce. The 15-year use permit deal is the latest step Kennedy is taking as the center transitions from a historically government-only launch complex to a multi-user spaceport, and it will help us retain and create jobs in the region.
Today is a great day for NASA, Kennedy, Boeing, Space Florida, and the commercial space industry on the Space Coast.
The Obama Administration has marshaled significant resources to the Space Coast region to strengthen NASA’s role in innovation and job creation.
• Earlier this month we announced the selection of the design for the Space Launch System – the most powerful rocket ever to be built — that would carry astronauts into deep space. This new deep space rocket will be processed, stacked and launched at the Kennedy Space Center, supporting thousands of jobs in the Space Coast.
• The next-generation deep space explorer, Orion, designed as a multipurpose crew vehicle to ferry astronauts beyond Earth orbit to the moon, asteroids, and beyond, will undergo final construction, integration, and eventual launch at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The work on Orion will support at least 350 jobs at the center.
• The Mobile Launcher is being built at Kennedy to assemble, test, check out, service, transfer to the pad and launch future rockets. Just one of these launch vehicles will be NASA’s SLS heavy lift launch vehicle to transport the Orion crew exploration vehicle, its crew and cargo on missions farther into the solar system than we have ever gone before.
• We’ve headquartered our Commercial Crew program at Kennedy, and just last week we reported that four companies involved in the Commercial Crew development program are making substantial progress toward achieving crewed spaceflight. Since signing partnership agreements with NASA in April, these firms already have completed nearly 40 percent of the milestones on their rocket designs to carry astronauts into low-earth orbit. One of the companies, SpaceX, testified before Congress last week that it has invested $500 million in its Commercial Crew program, a significant private-sector commitment to this emerging industry.
The NASA-Space Florida-Boeing agreement is a major boost to the Florida Space Coast and another important signal of the Obama Administration’s support for the area, and for the future of human space flight. We can’t wait when it comes to creating jobs and building the space program of tomorrow – and we’re not.