Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez chairs the Space Florida Board of Directors.
Few responsibilities provide more opportunities to reflect on Florida’s past, present, and future challenges than serving as the chair of Space Florida, the state’s aerospace finance and development authority. Recently, we celebrated the accomplishments made by commercial, military, and public sector aerospace during the state’s annual Space Day at the Florida Capitol. The successes are rooted in historic moments that have reverberated throughout the world. The foundation for a global aerospace economy was born in Florida and continues to soar to new heights in the Sunshine State.
Our mission today is to make Florida the leader of tomorrow. Florida is an interconnected network of destinations that require safe, reliable, and innovative transports, including everything from roads and bridges to lower earth orbit. We’re developing strategic partnerships with companies, allowing these innovators to imagine, build, launch, recover, and even refurbish and relaunch from the Sunshine State. From Pensacola to Key West, Space Florida is leveraging its unique tools to build an expansive aerospace ecosystem across the entirety of the state.
Our Spaceport Improvement Program, a partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation, is yet another example of how Space Florida is working to create a spaceport system across the state, focused on commercial and public sector space transportation needs. This program leverages a private match to help improve current infrastructure and build new facilities. Past projects include enhancements to a launch complex at Cape Canaveral and improvements at Cecil Spaceport to enable commercial launches.
Our reach stretches far beyond Florida’s borders, as we find innovative ways to collaborate with our aerospace allies abroad. Space Florida’s nearly 10-year-long partnership with the Israel Innovation Authority has yielded incredible benefits including technology that was most recently tested aboard NASA’s Artemis mission. Florida and Israel have invested $18 million to develop cutting-edge research and development projects and foster company partnerships.
Space Florida now operates from the Launch and Landing Facility, formerly the Shuttle Landing Facility. This massive 15,000-foot (12,600 meters) runway is where an astronaut’s journey to space begins. More than just a runway, the surrounding areas are prime spots for companies to manufacture satellites and spacecraft. Space Florida has invested in upgrades to the Launch and Landing Facility to attract those companies, including a completion of a new mile-long utility corridor.
Last spring, Space Florida commissioned an independent economic impact study. Since 2007, the state’s total impact reached $5.9 billion. Space Florida projects are responsible for nearly 20% of Florida’s estimated aerospace workforce. Over the next five years, the total economic impact is expected to be more than $5.3 billion, with an average annual impact of $1.1 billion. With a projection of close to 100 launches this year, the investments we make today will yield incredible benefits in the future. That means more growth, more jobs, and more opportunity to compete on a global scale and beyond.
What started in 1950 with a two-stage rocket has led to exponential growth in an industry crucial to our state. The brightest minds, biggest ideas, and most innovative ventures have been coming here ever since. It may have started on the Space Coast, but now all of Florida is pushing the envelope and breaking boundaries to claim many firsts in aerospace. The questions we ask and challenge ourselves to solve today are all centered on the idea that Florida is the global entry point into space. If you want to soar among the stars, your journey begins in Florida.