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As competition grows, Space Florida has a plan to bolster state's private aerospace industry

 Private rocket company SpaceX launches a GPS III satellite from Cape Canaveral. SpaceX leases two launch pads on Florida's space coast.
Private rocket company SpaceX launches a GPS III satellite from Cape Canaveral. SpaceX leases two launch pads on Florida's space coast.

Space Florida, the state agency responsible for developing Florida’s private space industry, said competition across the country is fierce.

"We have new ideas, developing on governance, access to capital workforce and research. But so too does everybody else on the planet who's trying to get a role in space,” said Space Florida's Dale Ketcham.

A recent report from Space Florida estimates an economic impact of $1.1 billion a year over the next five years, thanks to its investment in space.

Speaking to a state Senate committee, Ketcham said other states like New Mexico, Virginia and Texas are all competing for a share of the growing aerospace industry.

"Florida is where it is because we're not afraid to seize the advantages that lay before us," he told the committee. "That's a precedent we've set for a generation now. But we have to continue to innovate and improvise, and compete most importantly."

State aerospace leaders are asking the legislature to continue to invest in efforts that grow Florida’s space industry, like an investment in developing a high-tech workforce to support aerospace companies. Partnerships with research institutions like the University of Central Florida can also give the state a leg up in the competition.

The charge comes as Florida could host a record-setting year when it comes to rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center and neighboring Cape Canaveral Space Force Station — nearing 100 launches in 2023, according to Kennedy Space Center Director Janet Petro.

"[That's] because we were hearing from all the launch providers and all they wanted to all of the launches that they wanted. We have 94 on our launch manifest this this year."

Last year there were 57 launches from Florida's Space Coast.

The growing number of launches for 2023 includes maiden flights of new rockets from commercial spaceflight companies. United Launch Alliance plans to fly its new Vulcan rocket this year and Relativity Space is preparing to send its 3D-printed rocket on its first flight soon.

NASA and private partners SpaceX and Boeing also plan to launch multiple crews of astronauts to the International Space Station this year, and SpaceX will send even more private citizens to space from Florida's Space Coast.

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