Florida Promotes Space Development, Cuts Budget for Promotional Agency

Florida Today has a roundup of what the Florida Legislature has done during its current term to attract and keep aerospace companies. These measures include:

  • $14.5 million to upgrade a launch complex for commercial flights;
  • $1.25 million for space workforce retention and training programs;
  • tax refunds for companies that retain workers; and,
  • a measure limiting the liability of space tourism companies.

Ironically, the Legislature passed a budget that severely cuts funding for Space Florida, the organization that develops and promotes the state’s aerospace industry. Space Florida will receive $4 million this year, a reduction from its current $7 million budget. Gov. Charlie Crist had requested an increase to $8.5 million.

The cutback was apparently part of a general belt tightening effort in the midst of an economic downturn. A spokeswoman said Space Florida would cut back on trade shows and other promotional activities but does not anticipate any staff cutbacks.

Florida Today also reports that Space Florida is in negotiations with the U.S. Air Force over the use of Launch Complex 36, a deactivated Atlas rocket launch facility at the Cape Canaveral Air Station. The story does not indicate how the state would use the complex, but it could be related to efforts by Florida to lure Orbital Sciences Corporation to the state. The company is expected to make a decision soon on whether it will launch its new NASA-funded rocket from Virginia or Florida.