NASA Taps Space Florida To Operate, Maintain Kennedy Shuttle Landing Facility
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
NASA has selected Space Florida, the aerospace economic development agency for the state of Florida, to maintain and operate the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), the US space agency announced Friday.
“This agreement will continue to expand Kennedy’s viability as a multi-user spaceport and strengthen the economic opportunities for Florida and the nation,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said during a news conference at the KSC visitor complex.
“It also continues to demonstrate NASA’s commitment and progress in building a strong commercial space industry so that American companies are providing safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station and other low Earth orbit destinations,” he added.
The SLF, which was designed for space shuttles returning to KSC, opened in 1976. It features a concrete runway that is 15,000 feet long and 300 feet wide. The landing strip can handle all types and sizes of aircraft and horizontal launch and landing vehicles, and has hosted 78 space shuttle landings over the past three decades.
In 2012, NASA issued a request for information to industry in the hopes that they would be able to identify innovative new ways to use the facility for current and future commercial and government mission activities. The proposal submitted by Space Florida is closely aligned with Kennedy’s vision of creating a multiuser spaceport.
“The SLF is a significant asset for the center that ties our historical past to the vision of the future,” KSC Director Robert Cabana said. “I had the privilege of landing two space shuttle orbiters at the facility and look forward to beginning discussions with Space Florida on a future partnership that will fully utilize this unique resource.”
“The SLF provides a unique capability for new and expanding suborbital launch providers, unmanned aerial vehicle operators and other aerospace-related businesses to thrive in a location that maximizes the resources of the space center and Eastern Range operations,” added Space Florida president Frank DiBello. “We look forward to working with NASA and KSC leadership in the coming months to finalize the details of this transaction in a way that will provide the greatest benefit to incoming commercial aerospace businesses.”