NASA has selected Space Florida, the aerospace economic development agency for the state of Florida, for negotiations toward a partnership agreement to maintain and operate the historic Shuttle Landing Facility.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and the director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Robert Cabana, announced the selection during a news conference June 28 at Kennedy’s Visitor Complex in Florida.
“This agreement will continue to expand Kennedy’s viability as a multi-user spaceport and strengthen the economic opportunities for Florida and the nation,” Bolden said. “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.”
NASA issued a request for information to industry in 2012 to identify new and innovative ways to use the facility for current and future commercial and government mission activities. Space Florida’s proposal is aligned closely with Kennedy’s vision for creating a multiuser spaceport.
“The SLF is a significant asset for the center that ties our historical past to the vision of the future,” said Cabana. “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,” said 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.”
The SLF, specially designed for space shuttles returning to Kennedy, opened for flights in 1976. The concrete runway is 15,000 feet long and 300 feet wide. The SLF is capable of handling all types and sizes of aircraft and horizontal launch and landing vehicles.