Florida’s Aerospace Industry Represents Key Segment in State’s Economic Growth and Recovery

Space Florida Reflects on 2020 News and Successes 

Florida’s Aerospace Industry Represents Key Segment in State’s Economic Growth and Recovery

Exploration Park, Fla. (December 23, 2020) – Today, Space Florida shared the many accomplishments of Florida’s aerospace and commercial space industry in 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida’s Cape Canaveral Spaceport kept launching rockets. In May, the world watched as American astronauts lifted off from Florida for the first time since 2011, marking a new era of human spaceflight and commercial space exploration. The aerospace industry represents a key part of the State’s strategy for post-pandemic economic recovery, and Space Florida has good reason to be enthusiastic about the future of aerospace.

“Despite the challenges that COVID-19 brought to the State, our industry and our organization, Space Florida is pleased to have had a successful year of growth within the aerospace industry here in the State of Florida, with support from Governor DeSantis as well as our Board Chair and Lieutenant Governor Nuñez,” said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello. “Space Florida is working with other economic development partners to create an energized driving force in recruiting these companies to the Sunshine State. The future of this industry is very bright, representing an increasingly important segment of Florida’s economy.

As 2020 draws to a close, Space Florida looks back on an extraordinary year of growth of the aerospace industry in Florida. And the Cape Canaveral Spaceport is emerging as the world’s premier space transportation hub and global leader in enabling commercial space industry expansion.

Space Florida is pleased to share top events, projects and accomplishments for the year:

Crewed Missions, Space Exploration Launches from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport

This year, Space Florida celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Cape Canaveral Spaceport and its first launch. Since that day, the Cape has seen more than 3,700 launches and landings of more than 100 different types of vehicles and a multitude of passengers. Throughout the Cape’s history, Florida has been the unequivocal leader in space exploration, and the embarkation point for more cargo and humans launched into orbit than anywhere else on Earth, and 2020 was no different.

Demo-2: In late May, for the first time since 2011, human spaceflight returned to the United States as SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft from Florida. The Demo-2 launch signaled a new era in human spaceflight and a tremendous milestone in the commercial space industry. Crew Dragon returned home, splashing down off the coast of Pensacola in August.

Mars 2020: In July, NASA’s Perseverance Rover Mars 2020 mission, one to explore the Red Planet, lifted off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex (SLC) 41 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The launch marked another example of Florida’s leadership and role as ground central for the nation’s space exploration activities. The Atlas V launch pad at SLC-41, owned by Space Florida since 1997, was one of the early applications of our toolkit in service of space exploration.

SAOCOM IB: In August, Space Florida was pleased to highlight that the Cape Canaveral Spaceport once again offers full support of polar launch capabilities. The SpaceX Falcon 9 SAOCOM IB mission from SLC-40 marked the first polar launch from the Cape in more than 50 years. The return of polar and sun-synchronous orbit launch capability to the Cape Canaveral Spaceport presents an opportunity for launch providers to satisfy almost any orbital launch requirement from Florida.

Crew-1: In November, three American astronauts and one Japanese astronaut launched from Florida as the Crew-1 mission lifted off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, marking the first crewed operational flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft. Every launch of astronauts before, from anywhere else on Earth, had been a government program. The Crew-1 launch, from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport, marked the first commercial crewed flight. Unlike all before, this was a purely commercial transaction.

Space Florida Around the State

Made In Space (Jacksonville): In January, Space Florida joined Governor Ron DeSantis in announcing that Made In Space, Inc., would be relocating its headquarters and satellite manufacturing operations to a new headquarters facility in Jacksonville from Silicon Valley, California. The new headquarters will include the capability to locally manufacture, test and control spacecraft and in-space manufacturing equipment. The headquarters relocation was part of a multi-year expansion program that has generated over 50 new positions in Jacksonville since January 2019. In June, Made In Space announced its acquisition by Redwire Space and in September, Redwire announced it would also be moving its headquarters to Jacksonville.

Leonardo Aerospace (Santa Rosa County): In January, Leonardo Aerospace announced it would build a new customer support center adjacent to Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Santa Rosa County. This project is a result of Leonardo being awarded the contract to replace the Navy’s Advanced Helicopter Training System TH-73. Leonardo will build a comprehensive customer support center adjacent to Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Santa Rosa County. The project is an outcome of Space Florida utilizing its statewide toolkit. Leonardo will construct an approximately 100,000 sq. ft. facility in Whiting Aviation Park, a 269-acre planned development adjacent to Naval Air Station Whiting Field, where all helicopter pilots for the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are trained.

SIMCOM International, Inc. (Orlando): Announced in July, SIMCOM International, Inc. is expanding and building a new worldwide headquarters in Orlando. The company, which currently operates two learning centers in Orlando, is investing $109 million in a new headquarters and training facility and plans to create more than 50 new high wage jobs over the next two years. The new location will house a state-of-the-art training center including the addition of five new CAE full-flight simulators.

SIMCOM is moving its headquarters from its previous location on Lee Vista Road to Lake Nona. The proximity to the downtown district of the master-planned Lake Nona community will give its customers access to high quality lodging, leisure, dining, and entertainment options as they complete their training.

Aerion Supersonic (Melbourne): In August, Space Florida was pleased to announce it has finalized a multi-million-dollar investment in Aerion Supersonic to accelerate the hiring of employees and development of the company’s new state-of-the-art campus, Aerion Park, in Melbourne, Florida.

A new development which will be powered by clean energy, Aerion Park will incorporate a new global headquarters and integrated campus for research, design, production and support of the company’s supersonic aircraft. The new project represents a multi-year investment that is expected to generate at least 675 jobs in Florida by 2026.

U.S. Space Command Headquarters (Brevard County): In November, Governor DeSantis announced Patrick Air Force Base in Brevard County was selected as a finalist to host headquarters for U.S. Space Command, as part of the Space Force – the newest branch of the military. Consideration of Florida is a testament to the State’s long history supporting the aerospace industry and spaceflight.

Space Florida Research and Innovation

Capital Accelerators: Space Florida continued its partnership with the Florida Venture Forum, hosting the first-ever all-virtual Florida Aerospace Innovation and Tech Forum in May and the third annual Florida Aerospace Capital Conference in November. These capital accelerator events were an opportunity to broaden the spectrum of early stage, Florida-based aerospace and aviation companies and entrepreneurs while engaging with Florida’s investment community.

To date, Space Florida-supported capital accelerators have attracted more than $460 million in funding and investments for participating companies.

Florida-Israel Innovation Partnership: Space Florida continued its partnership with the Israel Innovation Authority announcing the winning partnerships of the Seventh Call for Projects in June and opening the Eighth Call for Projects in October.  Space Florida joined Governor Ron DeSantis for the signing of memorandums of understanding with both the Israel Space Agency and the Israel Innovation Authority. The Florida-Israel Innovation Partnership with the Israel Innovation Authority has entered its Seventh Call for Projects.

In October 2013, Florida and Israel established a $2 million recurring joint fund to support research, development, and commercialization of aerospace and technology projects that benefit both Israel and Florida.

“I once again had the honor of serving as Chair of Space Florida’s Board of Directors and helping Space Florida to position the Sunshine State as the leader in the aerospace industry, as well as a key component in our State’s post-COVID-19 recovery,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “It’s been an exciting year in Florida’s aerospace industry from launches to welcoming new companies to the State. I look forward to the future of this industry.”


About Space Florida: Space Florida was created to strengthen Florida’s position as the global leader in aerospace research, investment, exploration and commerce. As Florida’s aerospace and spaceport development authority, we are committed to attracting and expanding the next generation of space industry businesses. With its highly trained workforce, proven infrastructure and unparalleled record of achievement, Florida is the ideal location for aerospace businesses to thrive – and Space Florida is the perfect partner to help them succeed. www.spaceflorida.gov


Press Contact:

Sara Shell
321-730-5301 x221