By Chris Fish
BREVARD -- The United States Air Force and a defense company are set to locate a new test-vehicle program at Kennedy Space Center this year, the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast announced on Friday, Jan. 3.
The Boeing Company, one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses, and the Air Force will locate their X-37B orbital test vehicle program at the Space Center to further reinforce the region's status, as a location for space activities and growth, said Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the EDC.
"The X-37B program will further diversify the aerospace industry on the Space Coast, and the EDC was pleased to be part of the team, led by Space Florida and the Kennedy Space Center, that helped secure a permanent home for this project," she said in an email. "We are pleased The Boeing Co. recognized our competitive advantages, including accessibility, a highly skilled workforce and assets, such as Kennedy Space Center, and we are confident Brevard's business-forward attributes will bring success to this exciting endeavor."
The EDC joined the project team 16 months ago, working with multiple agencies to help develop an attractive location package to house the X-37B.
The program, which will be based at a former Orbital Processing Facility at the Space Center, will allow Boeing and the U.S. Air Force to land, recover, refurbish and re-launch the 29-foot-long, unmanned space vehicle.
The program is expected to generate high-tech engineering, manufacturing and support jobs, but the exact number of these jobs has yet to be announced.
The operation will join more than 2,000 other aviation and aerospace companies, operating in the state of Florida, which, overall, employs 87,000 people.
In a press release, Mary Bolin Lewis, Brevard County Board of County Commissioners chairwoman, said that the new testing facility would provide economic growth for the Space Coast.
"This is a great opportunity to utilize Brevard County's talented workforce in support of our nation's next-generation space vehicle research platform," she said.