Florida to Subsidize SpaceX & Blue Origin Projects at KSC

Space Florida is scheduled to provide about $18 million to Blue Origin and SpaceX for a pair of projects, Florida Today reports.

Next Wednesday in Tampa, Space Florida’s board of directors will consider two proposals worth $14.5 million supporting SpaceX’s proposed spaceport expansion, including a hangar for Falcon rocket refurbishment and a control tower.

Another $3.4 million would support Blue Origin’s rocket manufacturing site in Exploration Park, a state-run complex on NASA property at the south end of KSC….

Most of the work is described as “common infrastructure improvements,” such as access roads and utilities that could benefit multiple tenants or guests around a site, not just the two private, billionaire-led companies.

SpaceX and Blue Origin have committed to investing $15 million and $30 million, respectively, of their own money in those improvements, and much more on the overall projects.

  • Kenneth_Brown

    Both SpaceX and Blue Origin don’t need subsidies. They also don’t have the option of locating their launch operations someplace else for the vast majority of their flights so it isn’t as if they will pull up stakes and leave if they don’t get free money.

  • Michael Halpern

    While true, i think the idea is more in regards to accelerating work and paying for the parts that will be advantageous for other operators as well, giving the companies more budgetary margin to deal with the unexpected more effectively without impacting their other projects. Not so much free money as it is insurance and easy votes

  • ThomasLMatula

    Neither do ULA, Boeing or Lockheed, but they have been getting them for decades in the form of cost plus contracts from the government. Why the dislike for the new kids on the block?

    And yes, they are able to go elsewhere. Texas comes to mind as an option. Not just Brownsville, but at least two other locations on the Gulf Coast that would be ideal. And the new one stop model on space launch regulation will make it possible to do so.

  • envy

    “infrastructure improvements” aren’t free money. The companies generally won’t own the roads and utilities around their manufacturing complexes. They are owned by the public and used by the public and other consumers.

    And rocket manufacturing / refurbishing certainly could be located elsewhere. In fact, there are currently no commercial rocket manufacturing or refurbishing facilities in Florida, these will be the first built for that purpose.

  • P.K. Sink

    …Most of the work is described as “common infrastructure improvements,” such as access roads and utilities that could benefit multiple tenants or guests around a site, not just the two private, billionaire-led companies….

    Smart. That sounds like just the sort of projects that government should be spending money on.

  • Michael Halpern

    Especially as SpaceX and Blue Origin are willing to pay for it themselves, helping them along by pitching in is probably better than paying someone to do something outright in this case

  • Paul_Scutts

    The construction of roads and other infrastructure is just standard local government business practice. The financial contributions from businesses that benefit from said infrastructure is standard practice as well. So, what’s the big deal?

  • Michael Halpern

    Part where this was more or less initiated by the businesses and the local government is contributing, also the rockets that will travel on these roads..

    So basically not much

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yep, and the state should get pay back in more jobs to replace the NASA ones that will disappear.

  • Kenneth_Brown

    Building manufacturing/refurbishment facilities at the Cape saves SX and BO significant amounts of money over locating those facilities off-site. The “control tower” is a useless bit of excess at a space launch facility. At an airport where monitoring ground traffic is a priority, they are useful. It isn’t necessary for a space launch complex. If SpaceX wants an elevated lounge for Elon and his “crew” to hang out and watch launches, let them build it themselves. They’ve already shown that a sectioned off piece of factory floor is sufficient for launch operations.

    Items such as roads and utility extensions are one thing, but buildings and similar improvements are another. Both companies are sufficiently large and estimated to be bringing in enough revenue or sufficiently funded to pay their own way. Space Florida should be using their funds to construct facilities that can be used by smaller companies that can be rented for short periods as an incubator.

  • Kenneth_Brown

    Now you’re confusing contracting practices with outright subsidies. I dislike any government funding of large companies. Why should my taxes be used to support a company that is supposed to be earning enough to look after itself. In the case of SX and BO, both companies have the financial support they need to build their own infrastructure.

    Whether the new proposed regulations make it easier to locate new facilities on the Gulf remains to be seen. The patch where SpaceX broke ground is still sitting there and it is further north than Florida. That makes a difference. Key West would be even better than the Cape even though it’s not all that further south, but every little bit helps by increasing the amount of payload that can be put into the highest orbits.

    The safety aspect of launching from the east coast makes it much better than the Gulf. Raining debris across Florida due to a off-nominal launch from a Gulf location is not an option as it violates the FAA principle of not impacting un-involved public.

  • Kenneth_Brown

    I have not problem if the funds were used to add additional radars and other common use range equipment. One of the problems at the Cape is they have to drag support equipment from one location to another to be able to conduct operations which means days between launches. A delay by one operator can mean cascading delays for several others.

    If I needed equipment and tooling to be able to increase production at my manufacturing company, I had to borrow or set aside money in the budget to buy it. That’s as it should be. I would have been the recipient of any gains from that equipment. If the government hands out buildings and capital equipment to companies or gives them incredible deals on leases, they are picking the companies that they want to survive which is anathema to the capitalist system. SX and BO are not considered defense contractors and even those companies that are should not be receiving special treatment any more due to there now being a plethora of choices for launch services to serve national security needs. If ULA can’t survive being weened from the bottle, it should be left for dead, though I doubt that it can’t stand on its own two feet. In the past, it was thought prudent to support the industry to maintain the capability in support of defending the US. It wasn’t like they could outsource the launch of an intelligence satellite to Russia or the ESA. Those days are past and there is no good argument that any other company now deserves the same support because it was done in the past. This is now, that was then.

  • Michael Halpern

    this is mostly that, they are paying for the roads part of it, and some paperwork, the companies do the rest

  • Michael Halpern

    XS–1/ Phantom Express, being paid for by Darpa, owned by Boeing, the ill-fated X-33 Venturestar, paid for by NASA would have been owned by LockMart, most development for Vulcan paid for by USAF owned by ULA

  • Michael Halpern

    actually the launch control has two purposes, 1 press site, 2 enable them to conduct two launches at once

  • envy

    And who said that Space Florida is building the control center? Or are you just making this up?

  • Michael Halpern

    He’s making it up, the primary focus for this funding is roadwork, pipes and electrical, might be a little spill over for say parking lots, but that’s likely the limit

  • envy

    The USAF (not the state of Florida) pays for and operates the range equipment, and charges the LSPs for that service.

    Florida is not paying for manufacturing equipment or buildings here. It is mostly paying for common use infrastructure (roads, utilities) that are used by the public and other taxpaying companies as well.

    Companies that create local jobs and pay local taxes support the local community, and local communities generally try to support them in return. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this, since it can help out everyone involved.