Yesterday Congressman Tom Feeney (R-FL) and state legislator Thad Altman met with Florida governor Charlie Crist and lieutenant governor Jeff Kottcamp to talk about the future of the space industry in the state (or, as a Tampa Bay TV station put it, “Florida’s Space Frontier”), with an eye towards mitigating the effects of the shuttle-CEV transition on the state’s economy, and in particular the economy of the Space Coast region of the state. Part of the problem is the so-called “gap” between the retirement of the shuttle and the introduction of Orion, although another issue (glossed over in the reports) is that, as currently planned, Orion and Ares 1 will not require as large a workforce as the shuttle does today.
What does Gov. Crist think about all this? “I’m very excited about the future as it relates to space, as it relates to the real estate market, and other things,” WTSP-TV reported. (Real estate market?) He also tells the Tallahassee Democrat that the situation is “on the precipice of panic” in Brevard County, home to KSC.
Feeney, talking up the strengths of the Cape Canaveral area, goes a little too far at one point with the Democrat: “We’re the best place on the planet because of the way the earth rotates – not even Congress can mess that up – to launch equatorial orbits,” he says. That’s doubtless a surprise to Arianespace, which launches out of Kourou, French Guiana, just a few degrees north of the Equator; or to Sea Launch, whose mobile launch site allows them to perform launches on the Equator. Proof, apparently, that while Congress can’t mess up the location of Cape Canaveral, a member of Congress can mess up its importance.
Feeney also asked Crist “to use his influence with visiting presidential candidates to make sure the Space Coast stays in the technology forefront,” according to the Democrat. One candidate already gets a conditional endorsement of sorts from Florida Today, which appreciates and largely supports Hillary Clinton’s space policy statement issued last week. The paper likes in particular the passing reference in the policy to accelerate Ares 1 and Orion development, but adds, “There’s no way to know if Clinton would actually follow this course, or if it’s just another talking point that will disappear like so much cosmic dust. The paper hopes that “Clinton’s stance will cause more candidates to come forward with their ideas” about space.