In 2012, the State of Florida requested 150 acres of NASA land located at the north end of the Kennedy Space Center. Before NASA came it was a town known as “Shiloh.” This site will be developed into a purely commercial spaceport to help the state recapture the commercial payload market, which was here but went overseas many years ago.
Discussions are ongoing with NASA, the FAA and the Florida Department of Transportation regarding the future utilization of this land, and an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) will be conducted by the FAA (starting late summer 2013) to determine the optimal parcel for commercial launch providers, which will also minimize environmental impact .
Why is commercial launch important for Florida?
Florida used to own 100% of the global commercial launch market. Now the Europeans, Russians and Chinese have it. The potential for the commercial space industry to provide significant jobs and economic impact to the state of Florida make it an industry worth pursuing aggressively. Florida’s 50+ year history of space launch and proven infrastructure, workforce and supply chain make it a perfect fit for expanded commercial spaceports.
Why is a dedicated commercial launch site necessary?
Commercial satellite operators seek a launch environment that ensures their payload will have priority and schedule assurance. Based on what we know from talking with commercial operators, most believe that they can be best served by an environment outside of a federal enclave. A dedicated commercially oriented spaceport that can quickly and reliably get payloads to space will help bring back to the United States launches that are now occurring from foreign spaceports. Although there are facilities at KSC and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the commercial market knows that future NASA missions and national security imperatives will inevitably impede the smooth flow of their business model. That is why they are looking in Texas, Georgia and elsewhere, where that risk does not exist.
Why was the Shiloh area identified for commercial spaceport build out?
The site was identified after an exhaustive evaluation of the East Coast of Florida from the Keys to the Georgia border in early 2012. Shiloh was determined to be the best site because:
- Its location is far enough away from the existing KSC launch complexes to avoid interference of current KSC operations as well as future plans.
- As an independent launch site, regulation will be provided by the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation.
- With the existence of both government and the commercial sector in close proximity, this area would provide critical cross-pollination opportunities.
How will launches in this area affect the surrounding communities and the environment?
We do not anticipate restrictions on current beach access and only very limited impact to boating and fishing activities immediately adjacent to launch and landing activities.
Throughout this process, the State of Florida will work very closely with the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that the right mitigation techniques are put in place.
The past 50 years have shown that launch operations and wildlife areas can co-exist very well together. The State of Florida will ensure the same continues as we pursue a growing commercial launch market.