Space Florida CEO expects up to 200 launches per year

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By Marco Santana

Space Florida official says the region could see as many as 200 launches a year as space firms like SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and OneWeb boost production and ramp up their launch manifests.

President and CEO Frank DiBello said that means the region’s space economy must be nimble enough to meet that demand.

“We need to move from a paradigm of large federally funded infrastructure to one that is responsive to commercial markets,” he said at a Space Florida board meeting in Orlando on Wednesday.

The board also approved as much as $26 million during the next two fiscal years to go toward improvements on Launch Complex 36, which is being prepared for future launches by billionaire Jeff Bezos‘ Blue Origin.

Last month, permit applications filed by Blue Origin with the St. Johns River Water Management District revealed that the company planned to refurbish Launch Complex 36 and the adjacent 11, which has not seen a launch since 1964.

The company last year promised the creation of more than 300 jobs on the Space Coast.

That activity, along with the impending arrival of the satellite company OneWeb, SpaceX’s upcoming return to launch from Florida after a Sept. 1 explosion and the Blue Origin plan has DiBello pushing for a more-responsive environment from Space Florida.

“The progress being made is extensive and they are only being held up by the amount of time it takes to process documents and gain approval,” he said. “There has been some competition going on. They have successfully kept pressure on (each other) … so we are benefiting from that.”

Perhaps that benefit includes attracting new businesses.

A secretive Canadian company will bring 80 high-paying jobs to Titusville after it invests about $4 million to a new facility at Space Coast Regional Airport.

“This company does have skin in the game,” said Bill Dymond, chairman of the Space Florida board of directors. “They are invested in the project already.”

At the board meeting, trustees approved a plan that has Space Florida helping arrange financing and leases for land owned by Titusville-Cocoa Airport Authority.

DiBello did not mention the company by name but said it would be a “star” that plans on “increasing its presence” on the Space Coast.

msantana@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5256; Twitter, @marcosantana

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