August 20, 2010

Senator Seeks Tax Break For Space Investments

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson proposed a legislation on Tuesday that would introduce tax breaks for investments in commercial space ventures to offset job losses from the end of the U.S. space shuttle program.

The senator's state Florida is home to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) at Cape Canaveral, which serves as the launch site for shuttles.  The state is expected to lose between 8,000 and 9,000 jobs at the retirement of the space shuttle program.  Jobs in Texas and Alabama will be lost as well.

Nelson plans to introduce a bill amending the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 that allows investors to write off 20 percent of their investments in commercial space firms operating in special enterprise zones.

The bill allows five of these types of zones in the U.S., which would be selected by the Department of Commerce in areas impacted by the loss of space jobs.

"What we're doing now is everything we can to ensure KSC's continued importance to our nation's space exploration effort, while also broadening the economic opportunities along our Space Coast," Nelson said in a statement.

The proposal coincides with President Barack Obama's administration to replace NASA-owned and operated launch services with commercial space taxis.

Congress has not passed a spending plan for NASA for the year beginning October 1, nor have they decided how to bridge the gap in U.S. human space flight that will open when the shuttles stop flying next year.

The U.S. will be dependent on Russia to fly crews to the International Space Station until commercial space flight is ready.  

Russia charges NASA about $51 million per seat for a ride on its Soyuz spacecraft.  The price goes up to $56 million in 2013.

Obama hopes to spend $40 million in Florida and $60 million in other places in the country to help soften the upcoming job cuts.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke submitted a report this week that suggested spending $35 million for a competitive grants program in Florida, and $5 million to staff a new Commercial Spaceflight Technical Center at the Kennedy Space Center.


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