Article by: Paul Brinkmann

For the full story visit: The Orlando Sentinel

Growing commercial activity at Kennedy Space Center is prompting Space Florida to seek contractors to provide more fuel and new air-traffic-control facilities at the runway known as the Shuttle Landing Facility. The need for more fuel at the runway is prompted by more cargo flights and the potential for launching more satellites from the wings of jets.
On Wednesday, Space Florida released a request for proposals from potential fuel suppliers, calling for at least two fueling trucks that carry 5,000 gallons of Jet-A fuel, or a similar capacity.

Space Florida owns the former shuttle landing strip, and is preparing it to serve launch companies operating in the area.

The landing strip will soon require more than 100,000 gallons of fuel per year, according to Space Florida projections. In 2015, the agency says the facility needed 72,872 gallons, up from 67,558 in 2013 and 72,285 in 2014. The RFP didn’t list the amount of fuel used in 2016.

“Projections are based on previous aircraft activity, fuel requests by operators in which fuel was not available at the time of request, and projected increase in activities in and around Kennedy Space Center,” the RFP said.

Growing commercial activity includes the arrival of OneWeb and Blue Origin at the nearby Exploration Park, which is also run by Space Florida. OneWeb will build satellites and Blue Origin will build rockets, some of which will launch OneWeb’s equipment.

OneWeb has also considered launch of satellites from under the wing of large jets.
On Feb. 21, a previous request went out for contractors to remove and replace existing communications equipment in the facility’s Air Traffic Control Tower.

The landing strip was built in 1976 for NASA’s shuttle program. After the shuttle program ended in 2011, NASA sought an independent organization to operate it as a commercial spaceport and unique testing facility.

Space Florida won the contract and took over operations and management of the airfield in 2015.

While there are no current commercial fueling operations, Space Florida is finalizing the design and construction of a tank farm that would have a 20,000-gallon tank, and room for a second tank the same size.

Space Florida estimates the fuel farm construction and commissioning will be complete by the end of 2017.