April 3, 2008
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) today praised Governor Charlie Crist’s commitment to maintaining Florida as a national leader in space exploration. NASA’s Space Shuttle program is expected to end in 2010 and will shift to its Constellation Program by 2015. Currently, Florida’s space program is a $2-billion industry, affecting 47 of the state’s 67 counties and employing approximately 21,000 Floridians. Earlier this week, Governor Crist reaffirmed the state’s commitment in trying to lessen the impact of job losses in Central Florida by aggressively working to lure new contractors to the area that would work with future NASA flights, as well as the emerging commercial space industry.
“We appreciate Governor Crist’s leadership on this important issue and his understanding of the economic importance Florida’s space program plays,” AIF president and CEO Barney Bishop said. “Cape Canaveral is such an integral and important part of our state’s history – and future – that the Governor’s support is crucial to preserving this important resource.”
Earlier this year, AIF released their Economic Stimulus Package, comprised of several key spending recommendations for state leaders to consider in order to buoy the state’s economy. One of their recommendations highlighted the necessity for Florida to work quickly to commit the necessary funds to stimulate and encourage commercial space activity during the time between NASA’s Space Shuttle program ending and the beginning of the Constellation program. This kind of investment will ensure the high-quality, highly trained workforce of engineers in Florida remains in the state. Additionally, AIF recommended investing capital towards refurbishing existing launch pads for private flight.
“This week, Governor Crist helped to renew hope among the thousands of NASA and Cape Canaveral employees who are worried about job uncertainty,” Bishop said. “While there will be some negative impact during the transition into the Constellation program, those employees can be assured of the Governor’s commitment to Florida’s vital space industry.”
Florida has a long history with the nation’s space program. In 1962, NASA established in Cape Canaveral, Florida, the Launch Operations Center, later named the John F. Kennedy Space Center after the late president. The spaceport has served as the departure gate for every American manned mission and hundreds of advanced scientific spacecraft.