Florida Legislators Eye Tax Free Launches, State Subsidy for New Launch Complex

Falcon 9 launches 49 Starlink satellites from Florida. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

Faced with increased competition from Texas, Georgia and other states, Florida legislators are eyeing new ways to keep companies launching from the Sunshine State. Florida Politics reports:

Zero G Zero Fee’ bills would create tax exemptions for anything launched into space from Florida.

What if a company could launch a rocket into space from Florida and pay no sales tax on the rocket, its payload, its fuel or even the concrete, steel and equipment needed to create the launch pad?

That would be the reality if lawmakers this Session approve legislation from Sen. Tom Wright and Rep. Tyler Sirois (SB 1466HB 65)…

At the same time, Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia of Orlando has introduced HB 9233, which would provide a $10 million appropriation for Florida to build a new multiuser launch pad at Cape Canaveral. Space Florida, the state’s space business development agency, has talked about the need for a launch pad that could be leased on a per-launch basis by companies that don’t have their own launch facilities, as SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and others do.

Florida had the busiest orbital launch range in the world last year, with NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station hosting a total of 31 launches in 2021. However, the state faces increased competition from spaceports in other states.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is seeking approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to launch the Super Heavy/Starship rocket from the company’s Starbase facility in Texas. The company is also eying launches of the booster from converted oil rigs located in the Gulf of Mexico.

SpaceX is also planning to construct a Super Heavy/Starship launch complex near Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. The company launches Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy from Pad 39A. The company also is seeking approvals to build an additional launch complex on the NASA base to facilitate Super Heavy/Starship launches.

The FAA recently approved Spaceport Camden, a Georgia launch facility that will handle small-satellite boosters. It is not yet clear which booster(s) will launch from the facility.

Florida also completes with other spaceports in other states, most of which saw increases in launches last year. These include: Vandenberg Space Force Base in California; Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia; Mojave Air and Space Port in California; and the Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island.