Insiders see potential for Central Florida communities.
“It was a big ball of excitement.” That’s how Ken Hudson described the heady days at Cape Canaveral when he worked with the space program in the 1950s. “There was a lot of camaraderie. It didn’t matter what your job was.”
Hudson, now with Global Power Reduction Inc., of Sanford, said that excitement is coming back to Central Florida with the growth of private companies involved in space as well as initiatives by NASA.
Hudson was at the conference, “Expanding the Aerospace Footprint in Volusia … NOW” on Aug. 6 at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University attended by local business and government leaders.
The Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce and the several other sponsors of the event hope excitement about space spreads to Volusia County, resulting in economic growth.
“The industry will progress north,” said Congressman Michael Waltz, keynote speaker.
Representatives of Ormond Beach were on hand, including Economic Development Director Brian Rademacher, who called the Airport Business Park, the Municipal Airport and Ormond Crossings a hub that hopefully will attract space-based business. Plans are underway for a road to open up development opportunities in the southwest quadrant of the airport property. A grant has been received and construction is a couple of years away, he said.
The city is reaching out to site selectors, Team Volusia and Space Florida, the state aerospace economic development agency, to let them know what Ormond Beach has to offer, Rademacher said.
Ormond Beach was mentioned at the conference by Waltz, who said he had been at a meeting about the septic conversion plans.
“Why do I mention that at this conference?” he asked rhetorically. “Because we need clean water, we need clean beaches, so we have a framework where people want to come.”
In a recent development, Embry-Riddle announced plans to expand its Research Park into Space Square, which is being developed into space-related research and development businesses. It’s on the site of the former Volusia Square Shopping Center, with Home Depot the only business to remain. A couple of the previous businesses have relocated to Tanger Outlet Mall.
In addition to a need for more satellites, the U.S. government has announced plans for lunar exploration leading to a trip to Mars. The Space Station is also expected to remain viable for training and experimentation.
Local space involvement includes Sauer Group Inc., an Oak Hill company that provides vehicle handling systems; Aerojet Rocketdyne, which bought Daytona Beach manufacturer 3DMT; and Arralis Ltd., now moving into Embry-Riddle Research Park.
Rick Navarro, of the Boeing Co., said the current climate is the best he’s seen. Boeing’s long-range plans include Starliner, a reusable transport to the Space Station; SLS, a Space Launch System to send astronauts out into the Solar System; and Gateway, a deep space outpost.
Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida, told the attendees to focus on the supply chain and workforce to get involved in the space industry.