Space Florida Acquires Rights to Two Launch Complexes


Space Florida is pleased to announce that it has secured Real Property Licenses for Space Launch Complexes 46 and 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. As a result, the 45th Space Wing now grants Space Florida full rights to proceed with construction and refurbishment work at either launch location.

“Within the past year, we have been working diligently with the 45th Space Wing and the Navy to secure full rights to these complexes,” noted Mark Bontrager, vice president of Space Florida’s Spaceport Operations. “Through a mutual trust with both entities, we can now fully pursue build-out of these sites for commercial use. This will help to open up additional opportunities for Florida to take full advantage of the rapidly emerging commercial space marketplace. Having additional domestic launch sites ready for commercial utilization will also ensure the U.S. remains competitive from a global perspective.”

These licenses are in line with the 45th Space Wing’s mission, assuring access to the higher frontier. “This will help us better execute that mission. It’s a win-win-win for the Air Force, the state of Florida, and the nation,” said Col. Ed Wilson, 45th Space Wing Commander.

Now that Real Property Licenses are secured for both sites, Space Florida will work with the FAA to conduct all necessary due diligence required to secure a Launch Site Operators License for each complex. This process is anticipated to take approximately 180 days. During this timeframe an Explosive Site Plan for SLC-36 will also be reviewed by the Air Force Safety Center and the Department of Defense Explosive Safety Board.

To date, Space Florida has conducted corrosion control and maintenance efforts on the Mobile Service Tower at SLC-46, and preliminary engineering studies show that further refurbishment of SLC-46 is needed to ready it for full commercial launch operations. With the Real Property License fully secured, Space Florida can now utilize its resources – including a special $1.1 million appropriation by Senator Bill Nelson through NASA – to prepare the site for an interested launch customer (whose identity is currently protected under Non-Disclosure Agreement).

In December 2009, a Joint Use Agreement was signed between the Navy and Space Florida to grant full utilization of the site by either party, as needed. There is no anticipated naval use for the site at this time.

The last active use of SLC-46 was in 1999 when a communications satellite was launched on an Athena I. The last recorded launch at SLC-36 was in February 2005, when an Atlas 3B launched a classified NRO payload off of pad 36B.

As a champion for commercial space interests in Florida, Space Florida has advocated for and contributed funding to a number of critical launch programs at Cape Canaveral, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, ULA and Space X. Space Florida also continues to engage in active dialog with many commercial companies to further their operations in Florida.