KENNEDY SPACE CENTER – In a big boost for the economically ailing Space Coast, Boeing announced today that it would manufacture and test its Crew Space Transportation-100 spacecraft, and move its Commercial Crew program office, manufacturing and operations, to Kennedy Space Center.
The deal sets up a long-range partnership between Boeing, one of the largest global aircraft manufacturers and the third largest aerospace and defense contractor in the world, and Space Florida, the state’s space economic development agency.
Boeing is projecting this move will create 140 jobs in Florida by June 2013 and 550 by December 2015 through the CST-100, which is a reusable capsule-shaped spacecraft that has a crew module and service module.
Through this program, Boeing plans test flights by 2015 from the Eastern Launch Range at Cape Canaveral and will modernize Orbital Processing Facility-3, previously used to perform maintenance on the shuttle orbiters.
This partnership was formed in part because the OPF-3 offers the facility needed for manufacturing and processing the spacecraft, as well as office, laboratory and logistics areas that are needed to support operations and training for this mission with NASA.
During a press conference at Kennedy Space Center this morning, Gov. Rick Scott praised the deal and the benefits expected to come from it, at a time when Florida maintains a double digit unemployment rate.
“Florida has five decades of leadership in the space industry, which makes our state the logical place for the next phase of space travel and exploration,” Scott said. “Boeing’s choice of Florida for its Commercial Crew program headquarters is evidence Florida has the world-class facilities and workforce expertise needed for aerospace companies to succeed.”
Likewise, Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida, added, “This positions our state well for future growth and a leadership role in NASA’s next generation human space exploration initiatives. It is also a key factor in ensuring Florida’s space-related economy continues to thrive in the post-shuttle retirement.”
John Mulholland, vice president and program manager of Commercial Programs for Boeing Space Exploration, said, “We selected Florida due to the cost benefits achieved with a consolidated operation, the skilled local workforce, and proximity to our NASA customer.
“Pending the continued selection of Boeing for future Commercial Crew development and service contracts, and sufficient NASA funding, we project a Commercial Crew program workforce ramping up to 550 local jobs by our scheduled operational date of December 2015,” Mulholland added.
Boeing is working with Space Florida on an agreement to use Kennedy Space Center’s Processing Control Center facilities for execution of the Commercial Crew program. The PCC has 99,000 square feet of control rooms and office space that Boeing plans to use, and PCC previously supported shuttle orbiter testing, launch team training, and computer system software and hardware development and maintenance operations.
This project has been in the discussion phase for most of this year, said Susan Wells of the Boeing Space Exploration Communications team.
“I know they’ve been in discussions with Space Florida for about six months or more,” Wells said.
Just how quickly this project will get off the ground is still in the negotiating phase, she added.
“They are working on those final timelines right now,” Wells said.
The Commercial Crew program consists of developing, manufacturing, testing and evaluating, and demonstrating the CST-100 spacecraft, launch vehicle and mission operations. This will be done for NASA’s new Commercial Crew human spaceflight program that is expected to provide flights to the International Space Station.
Boeing’s system will also be capable of supporting Bigelow Aerospace’s planned orbital space complex, while the CST-100 is a reusable capsule-shaped spacecraft based on proven materials and subsystem technologies that can transport up to seven people, or a combination of people and cargo. Boeing has designed the spacecraft to be compatible with a variety of expendable rockets.
Space Florida was created to maintain and strengthen the Sunshine State’s aerospace research, exploration and commerce.
President Obama has proposed cancelling NASA’s Constellation Program, which aimed to send astronauts back to the moon by 2020, and to cut funding for NASA’s planetary exploration program and space astronomy program. This has been a major worry for those employed on the Space Coast.
To learn more, log on to www.spaceflorida.gov.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers an enhanced experience that includes the NASA Up Close and Cape Canaveral Then and Now tours, Lunch With an Astronaut, and the Astronaut Training Experience. Log on towww.kennedyspacecenter.com, or call 321-449-4400 for details.
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