Sierra Nevada Announces Space Coast Interest

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Director, Robert Cabana, andSenator Bill Nelson were on hand today for an announcement by Colorado-basedSierra Nevada Corporation of its interest in expanding the company’s spaceoperations on Florida’s Space Coast. The development serves as a reminder that the Space Coast is open forbusiness and ready for a new era in space exploration. 

Mark Sirangelo, Vice President of Sierra Nevada SpaceSystems, made the announcement today with state of Florida officials and thestate’s aerospace economic development agency, Space Florida.  This is great news for the Space Coast,which continues to be a critical focal point in our nation’s leadership inspace exploration.  It’s anothermajor step forward in the bipartisan plan crafted by the President and Congressto transition transport of cargo and crew to the International Space Station(ISS) to private industry partners, so that NASA can focus on deep spaceexploration.  The President’s planputs us on track to have American companies transporting astronauts to the ISSby 2017, ending the outsourcing of this work and creating good-paying Americanjobs.

Sierra Nevada is among the companies that have signedSpace Act Agreements with NASA in our Commercial Crew Development Program.  The company is developing its DreamChaser spacecraft that is being designed to launch from Florida’s Kennedy SpaceCenter (KSC) with the capability to safely transport astronauts and cargo tothe International Space Station and land them safely back on Earth. 

Last July, I was pleased to attend the signing of a SpaceAct Agreement with Sierra Nevada to involve KSC’s skilled workforce in launchpreparations and post-landing activities for Dream Chaser.  As Sierra Nevada follows through onmoving more of its work to the Space Coast, it will be a boost to our effortsto bolster the local economy.

NASA has already taken steps to do just that.  In fact, our Commercial Crew Program isheadquartered at KSC and all the prospective companies involved are makingsubstantial progress toward achieving crewed spaceflight.

The most exciting sign of thriving space activity on theSpace Coast is the pending SpaceX launch to the International Space Stationfrom Cape Canaveral in the coming days. Last year, NASA signed an agreement with Space Florida to lease KSC’sOrbiter Processing Facility(OPF) -3 to Boeing to manufacture and test thecompany’s Crew Space Transportation (CST-100) spacecraft.  In addition, workers at KSC areinvolved in preparing NASA’s new Space Launch System and Orion crew vehiclethat will take our astronauts farther into the solar system than we have everbeen – to an asteroid and eventually Mars.  Building on the demonstrated capabilities and legacy ofFlorida’s Space Coast, President Obama’s 2013 budget includes a multi-milliondollar investment to modernize and transform the launch infrastructure at KSCto benefit current and future users.

The thousands of Floridians who have contributed to thesuccess of the American space program have much of which to be proud – for pastachievements and those yet to come.  Today’s announcement is one more reminder of the importance of theFlorida Space Coast and its workforce – and the potential that lies ahead.