Space Florida: Leading in Space Commerce and the Future Lunar Economy
EXPLORATION PARK, Fla.—Dec. 19, 2022— Space Florida, the state’s aerospace finance and development authority, closes out 2022 with approximately $5.5 billion of statewide capital investment in its 150-project strong pipeline. Space Florida continued to expand its role in commercial spaceport operations by supporting two commercial launches at SLC-46, the only active multi-user launch pad on the Cape, and enabling 3,500 total flight operations at Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility (LLF) – including the arrivals of SpaceX’s Crews 4 and 5, the successful return of the U.S. Space Force’s X-37B unmanned spaceplane, and delivery of the heatshield for Artemis III. Consciously innovating to further broaden the aerospace industrial base, Space Florida focused on diversifying the industry by working with new manufacturing operations across the supply chain as well as cutting-edge companies employing the industry’s top engineers and talent.
Frank DiBello, president and CEO, Space Florida, said, “With more than 55 launches, 1,500 payloads, and 1.2 million pounds of payload to orbit, renowned spaceports and a robust system of aerospace assets, there is no doubt that Florida is the hub for a global space economy. Space Florida’s efforts, and the investment of Gov. Ron DeSantis, our board chair Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez, and our entire board, are driving statewide initiatives designed to advance aerospace technology assets and businesses within the supply chain, enabling cutting edge advancements in rockets and launch systems right here in the beautiful Sunshine State.
“From rejuvenating existing facilities like the Launch and Landing Facility to capital accelerator programs for early-stage companies – all critical components of fueling Florida’s robust space economy, we are attracting innovation that will build the next generation of rockets, satellites, and spacecraft, while launching, returning, refurbishing, and launching them again from right here within the state. Space Florida’s unique toolkit and investments makes us the place where leading aerospace companies get everything they need to see their new ideas take off.”
The 2022 Space Florida Launch and Landing Facility (LLF)
What was once a runway primarily used for government operations, the Space Florida Launch and Landing Facility (formerly the Shuttle Landing Facility) is being transformed into a gateway for aerospace innovation, exploration research, manufacturing, and testing. With the land within Space Florida’s Exploration Park nearing capacity and market demand accelerating, development at the LLF ensures Florida’s leadership in the space economy and exploration will continue, bringing new capabilities and customers to the busiest spaceport in the world.
SpaceX – Crew 4 & 5
On Florida’s Space Coast, teams from SpaceX waited patiently for the arrival of the astronauts as they readied for their mission on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft. As Crew 4 and Crew 5 disembarked the transport aircraft this year, their boots hit the pavement of Space Florida’s Launch and Landing Facility where they began their journey to the International Space Station.
U.S. Space Force – X-37B
In the early morning hours of November 12, teams from the United States Air Force and Space Force worked to manage the successful return of the X-37B, the U.S. military’s classified spaceplane, to the Space Florida LLF after 908 days in orbit conducting experiments. This marked the third time the spaceplane has landed at this facility.
2022 LLF Milestones
- Completion of a new mile-long utility corridor that is already enabling ground leasing opportunities and started construction of an additional 1.3-mile segment with expected completion in Q1 2024. As a part of the Florida Spaceport Improvement Program, investing approximately $63.8 million in grant funds over the past four years in partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation, Space Florida’s LLF improvements in 2022 allow for expanded commercial use while bolstering military and government operations, enabling future projects, fostering industrial growth, and attracting private capital investment.
- Additional LLF improvements in 2022 included preparation and preservation of land, construction on Hangar Road for improved emergency response access, and completion of the wetland mitigation project. These improvements continued to increase the value of the LLF and its ability to attract innovative companies to Florida.
- Took delivery (via NASA’s Super Guppy aircraft) of the Orion spacecraft’s heatshield for the Artemis III mission that will return humanity to the moon.
- Receipt of a satellite delivery to SpaceX by the Airbus Super Transporter (Beluga) – this was the first time the Airbus aircraft has landed at the LLF in more than a decade.
- Partnered with companies and entities such as Boeing Flight Operations, Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds, NASA, SpaceCoast Testing, Tesla, the University of Central Florida Laser Institute, and Volvo.
- Supported 508 aircraft landing and departures, more than 3,500 total flight operations, and 183 automotive test events (including a new speed record of 310.8 mph for a street legal 2006 Ford GT) (Data as of December 15, 2022)
- Companies who utilized the LLF for testing and research for the first time included Intuitive Machines and Airbus.
Additional Space Florida Finance and Investment Milestones in 2022
- Leveraging Space Florida’s financial tools for Dassault Falcon Jet, which paved the way for a new maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility in Melbourne, Florida.
- Increased lease financing capacity for SIMCOM International, Inc. to $110 million from $75 million to fund additional full flight simulators.
- Closed $70 million bank financing for CAE USA’s new facility at Tampa International Airport.
- Made strategic investment in Florida-headquartered Eve Air Mobility. The company is a spinout from Embraer into this separate NYSE publicly traded company.
- Worked with Gov. Ron DeSantis, Lt. Governor Jeanette Nuñez (Space Florida Board of Directors Chair), and state and local agencies and partners on a groundbreaking, multi-agency initiative to support a strong workforce in competitive industries including aerospace. The $30 million investment announced in September is dedicated to support workforce development in the Space Coast region.
- Invested $200,000 in early stage and emerging tech companies in partnership with the Florida Venture Forum (FVF). To date, Space Florida capital accelerators are responsible for attracting more than $687 million in funding and investments for the companies participating in the FVF and Space Florida programs.
- Continued partnership with the Israel Innovation Authority, investing $2 million jointly for the ninth year in cutting-edge aerospace companies focused on industrial research and development in Florida and Israel. To date, Space Florida and the Israel Innovation Authority have invested $18 million in projects while working with 37 Florida and 37 Israeli aerospace companies, including companies such as Redwire Space, Lockheed Martin, STEMRAD, L3Harris and HELIOS SPACE.
Anna Alexopoulos Farrar
About Space Florida
Space Florida is where leading aerospace companies get everything they need to see their new ideas take off. As that state’s aerospace finance and development authority, Space Florida brings a mix of unrivaled experience, unmatched financial tools, and unbeatable location to the table by providing critical business financing opportunities for the aerospace industry, managing infrastructure investment in the state’s spaceport system, and facilitating research and development, workforce, education, and investment programs.