NASA has rejected the state's request to take over property at the north end of Kennedy Space Center for development of a commercial launch complex - a potential setback in Florida’s effort to keep the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, from moving some launches to another state.
The space agency may be open to alternatives that don’t involve transferring ownership of land NASA says it still needs to support future missions, Local 6 news partner Florida Today reports.
Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, the head of Space Florida's board, last September wrote the administrators of NASA and the U.S. Department of Transportation to request roughly 150 acres to establish a launch complex that would operate independently from NASA and the Air Force’s Eastern Range.
The complex would be located near the Brevard-Volusia county line in the former citrus community of Shiloh, just inside the borders of KSC and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Though more than one company could use the complex, it represents the state’s attempt to keep the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, from committing to Texas, Georgia or other states where it is exploring the feasibility of a new pad for launches of commercial payloads.
Anticipating a significant increase in its flight rate, SpaceX wants a pad that offers easier access, more control over launch schedules and lower operating costs than might be possible inside secure government facilities such as KSC or Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
If the Shiloh site is federally owned, it would remain part of the Eastern Range’s jurisdiction.
The state had also asked NASA to transfer ownership of Kennedy’s shuttle runway, which could become a hub for privately operated space planes.