TALLAHASSEE – Florida’s aerospace agency wants to expand its role from helping companies fund rocket and satellite projects to getting money more directly into the hands of companies looking to move growing technology to the launch pad .
Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello told the agency’s board last week that a goal over the next few years is to allow Space Florida to move from organizing financial incentives and opportunities to working with a variety of more complex of relationships involving banks and pension funds. and the insurance industry and engage in capital and debt structures.
“We can go the current path, which is basically what we’re doing, but it kind of narrows our market focus so that we stay away from some of the development, purely development companies and just go back to sector debt private,” DiBello. “But this is not a game-changing strategy. This does not attract the companies of tomorrow that we want to bring in.”
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The council has yet to discuss the proposal, and any change would require legislative support.
DiBello said the need to provide capital “in the medium term” was reinforced by what he heard in July during the Farnborough International Airshow in England and the increase in launches from Florida.
“We saw for the first time (in Farnborough), companies talking to us about projects, two, three and five years out,” DiBello said. “In the past, we might not see these opportunities until the site selection advisors. Now we’re getting early discussions from companies that want to line up the opportunity in Florida and talk to us about the deal possibilities that are out there for settle here, come here and prosper here.”
With NASA hoping to lift off its Artemis mega-moon rocket by the end of August, 30 of this year’s 46 successful rocket launches from North American sites have taken place at the station of the Cape Canaveral Space Force and at the Kennedy Space Center.
Florida had 31 successful kicks in 2021, 30 in 2020, 16 in 2019, 19 in 2018 and 19 in 2017.
“The spaceport infrastructure money that we’ve invested in spaceport assets across the state is what’s contributing to this increased launch cadence that we’re seeing as we head toward 100 launches in the year,” DiBello said.
“Part of the impact of this is clearly Space Florida is very busy,” DiBello continued. “And some of the growth indicators that I’ve been referring to is the fact that from pre-Covid to post-Covid, our backlog of deals is doubling.”
Over the past decade, Space Florida has provided nearly $2.7 billion in funding, mostly for research, development and manufacturing facilities, and DiBello said ongoing projects could increase that to $5.5 billion. dollars
In 2020, legislation signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis removed the requirement that Space Florida notify House and Senate leaders before submitting bond proposals to the governor and cabinet. This change was seen as providing more flexibility to Florida Space to assist aerospace projects.
Created in 2006, Space Florida promotes the development of the aerospace industry through business and infrastructure funding, spaceport operations, research and development, and workforce development.
The agency is involved with Exploration Park, at the gates of Kennedy Space Center, three launch complexes and the Kennedy Space Center Launch and Landing Facility that was formerly used for space shuttle operations.