From: Space Florida
Posted: Thursday, November 1, 2007
Space Florida, the principal organization charged by the Florida Legislature with promoting and developing Florida's aerospace industry, today announced that it is teaming up with Bigelow Aerospace, LLC, an entrepreneurial space development company headquartered in Nevada, to explore establishing and contributing to the Florida Space Transportation Initiative. Structured as an investment fund of both public and private financing, conceptually, the Florida Space Transportation Initiative would support the development of a new, orbital space transportation system located at the Kennedy Space Center.
Human spaceflight operations are a critical part of Florida's economy - bringing $1.68 billion into the State annually and employing 30,000. But as NASA plans to retire the current Space Shuttle program by 2010, private-sector driven space enterprises, such as the proposed Florida Space Transportation Initiative, can leverage the State's expertise and reputation in the aerospace industry while establishing new and robust economic opportunities.
The Florida Space Transportation Initiative fund would potentially help finance development and domestic production of commercially built orbital transportation systems for moving crew and cargo to and from Low Earth Orbit ("LEO") in an affordable, reliable and safe fashion. Bigelow Aerospace has already publicly announced that it is prepared to commit up to $100 million in initial support for potential crew-carrying LEO transportation initiatives.
"In this exploratory phase, Space Florida, in collaboration with key statewide partners such as Enterprise Florida, will assess the viability and return-on-investment of the proposed initiative in terms of potential jobs created and economic activity stimulated," said Steve Kohler, president, Space Florida. "Bigelow knows that Florida has all the right resources - particularly human resources - to help grow the commercial aerospace industry."
Bigelow Aerospace, whose goal is to revolutionize space commerce via the development of next-generation habitat systems, has already fabricated, launched, and deployed two pathfinder spacecraft, Genesis I and Genesis II, launched from Russia in 2006 and 2007 respectively. Due to the success of these two technology demonstrators (which are substantial spacecraft and weigh in at roughly 3,000 lbs. each), BA recently made the decision to expedite the construction of the 'Sundancer' the company's first spacecraft capable of supporting a human crew. However, no commercial, domestic option exists to support Bigelow Aerospace's program, thus driving the need for an orbital transportation system to carry crew and cargo to and from LEO. To address this concern, Space Florida and Bigelow Aerospace have signed a letter of intent that commits both parties to further exploring collaboration on establishing a public-private fund to help promote new space transportation projects. Such an effort would potentially compliment NASA's own Commercial Orbital Transportation Initiative ("COTS").
"Our interest in this relationship is driven by Space Florida's exclusive qualifications," said Robert Bigelow President of Bigelow Aerospace. "With a distinctive aerospace manufacturing and launch infrastructure, and a vibrant workforce with deep expertise in systems development, Florida is uniquely positioned to facilitate the development of commercial space transportation systems." "Diversification of the Florida aerospace industry - a critical path for bringing in new business and job opportunities - is one of three key areas of Space Florida's focus during the last 12 months," Kohler added. "This agreement creates a relationship between Florida and one of the leading entrepreneurial space firms, Bigelow Aerospace, and, if successful, will allow the State to become the future hub for commercial orbital transportation development projects, ultimately attracting a wide variety of small and large business entrants in various locations across Florida."
ABOUT SPACE FLORIDA
Space Florida is the principal organization charged with promoting and developing Florida's aerospace industry. Space Florida was created by the Florida Legislature to sustain Florida's position as the global space leader. Space Florida's mission is to drive State economic development across the global aerospace enterprise. Space Florida's mission includes promoting industry related education and workforce development initiatives, innovative research & development programs and to enhance the business climate through sound expansion, recruitment and retention efforts.
ABOUT BIGELOW AEROSPACE
Bigelow Aerospace is an entrepreneurial space development company headquartered in Nevada. The goal of Bigelow Aerospace is to open the frontier of space to all of humanity by drastically reducing the costs and enhancing the efficacy and utility of commercial space-based activities. The company's primary focus is on the production of robust, next-generation expandable space habitats. Bigelow Aerospace has manufacturing facilities in both North Las Vegas, Nevada and Houston, Texas. BA currently has two operational spacecraft in orbit, the Genesis I and Genesis II.
Ian Murphy, 310-689-6397
// end //