PARIS, FRANCE – Governor Rick Scott announced today at the 51st International Paris Airshow that the Space Florida Board of Directors will approve the transfer of the historic Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center from NASA to Space Florida, the state’s aerospace and spaceport development authority. Space Florida’s operation of the Shuttle Landing Facility will provide Florida with a world-class horizontal launch capability and will keep Florida in the forefront of the rapidly growing commercial space market, as well as create more than 200 new jobs over six years for families in Brevard County according the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast.
Governor Rick Scott said, “This is an historic event for our state, and I am excited to make this announcement as we showcase the success of the aviation and aerospace industry in Florida during the 51st International Paris Airshow. With this agreement, Florida will gain access to both unrestricted airspace and one of the longest runways in the world, which will provide the Space Coast with a competitive advantage over any other state competing for aerospace jobs. The Shuttle Landing Facility will be converted into an economic engine that will bring more jobs to families in the Space Coast and will also help drive the next generation of spaceflight and discovery from Florida.”
Built in 1974 for space shuttles returning to Kennedy Space Center from orbit or other landing sites around the world, the facility first opened for flights in 1976. At 15,000 feet long and 300 feet wide, it is one of the longest and most capable runways in the world. Its surface consists of an extremely high-friction concrete strip designed to maximize the braking ability of heavy fast landing spacecraft. It was last used by space shuttle Atlantis on July 21, 2011, for a landing that closed out NASA’s space shuttle program.
Space Florida’s President and CEO Frank DiBello said, “This marks the dawn of a new era for horizontal spaceflight in Florida and the country as a whole. The most storied runway in the world will now become the cornerstone of Florida’s next generation commercial spaceport.”
The Shuttle Landing Facility will be used by Space Florida as a testing ground for new technologies and companies. It will serve a wide variety of customers such as Just-In-Time delivery companies, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) systems, NASCAR, and a new generation of space launch vehicles.
The formal handover from NASA to Space Florida will be completed at a signing ceremony on June 22. Space Florida will have the right to run the facility as a commercial launchway under a 30-year management agreement from NASA.