Cape Canaveral and NASA’s involvement in Florida may soon play a diminished role in the exploration of space if the Cape does not actively pursue keeping jobs in Florida.
Approximately 14,000 out of the 6.9 million people aged 16 and above that work in the state, are employed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, according to Florida Today. However, as stated in a draft strategy addressing NASA explorations, if those employed at the Cape want to keep their jobs, a lot more will need to be done to ensure these jobs’ security than the next successful shuttle launch.
The current space shuttle program may end as soon as 2010. Recommendations to keep the program running, along with expanding the newer exploration channels, were made by the Florida Space Authority, also located at the Cape. According to the analysis, the recommendation “creates both opportunities and threats.”
The strategy calls for large developments in the shuttle’s successor, the “crew exploration vehicle.” Other main points include: expanding Florida’s role in research and technology development for missions to Mars, the space station and moon; expanding research in aeronautics, defense and education; and improving spaceport technology and molding the Cape into the core of international launches.
“We need to invest in it,” Winston Scott, director of the FSA, told Today. “The state has got to put some money into this.”
“Some money” translates into roughly $94.2 million over a five-year period. The economic impact of keeping the jobs in Florida could be closer to $2 billion, according to Today, from federal and research funding and contract awards.
“That’s a big goal, and that’s what the agency was supposed to do, give us the scope of the goal,” Rep. Bob Allen, R-Merrit Island, told Today. Allen also said the state will be competing with California to build the shuttle’s successor, and the strategies put forth from the FSA, if completed, will be a determining factor. However, Florida should already be at an advantage because of the established relationship it has with NASA through the Cape.
Approximately 6,400 work directly with the shuttle. Letting these people go would be a waste of Florida resources. It would also create a diminished role played in the effort in the pursuit of our knowledge and the expanding programs to come.