Business Florida 2021 - The Regions
Brevard • Lake • Orange • Osceola • Seminole • Sumter • Volusia
The seven counties comprising East Central boast an enviable combination of Florida’s natural assets and man-made best: 118 miles of Atlantic coastline and a chain of nearly 1,000 lakes teeming with bass on one side, real rocket liftoffs and out-of-this-world fantasy adventures on the other. But make no mistake, with a workforce of 1.8 million, four commercial airports, one seaport and a spaceport, East Central means business. The proof is in its top three thriving industry sectors: aviation/aerospace, tourism and technology.
Even in the midst of a global pandemic and economic uncertainty, 2020 is turning out to be another banner year for Brevard County, aka “Florida’s Space Coast.” For the first time since NASA retired its shuttles in 2011, American astronauts lifted off from Cape Canaveral, this time aboard a Falcon 9 rocket built by the privately owned company SpaceX. Their return to Earth two months later in Falcon’s Crew Dragon capsule made history, too. It was the first water landing of U.S. astronauts since the last Apollo mission 45 years ago and the first-ever splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico. Up until the SpaceX launch in May 2020, the U.S. had relied on Russian rockets to send its astronauts to space, but no more. A second Falcon 9 launch from the Cape, tentatively scheduled for late October 2020, will send four astronauts to the space station for six months as, piece by piece, NASA and Space Florida work in tandem to achieve the ultimate goal of the Artemis program — landing the first woman and another man on the moon by 2024. Then it’s on to the next giant leap — sending astronauts to Mars.
In the meantime, many private companies, in addition to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, are already hard at work or settling into new homes along the Cape for the purpose of developing the systems, equipment and technologies that will be needed by this industry sector in the years ahead:
• Blue Origin, the rocket company created by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, continues building the New Glen rocket at its Cape Canaveral factory with an anticipated liftoff from historic launch complex LC-36 in late 2021. In April 2020, Blue Origin was chosen by NASA as one of three commercial companies to build lunar landers for its Artemis missions. The other two are SpaceX and Huntsville, Ala.-based Dynetics, a subsidiary of aerospace and scientific research firm Leidos.
• After failing to reach the International Space Station in its first un-crewed attempt in December 2019, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is on track to attempt a second un-crewed Orbital Flight Test no earlier than December 2020. If successful, Starliner’s first crewed mission — the Crew Flight Test — could take place in June 2021.
• Lockheed Martin has settled into its new Fleet Ballistic Headquarters in Titusville. Previously located in Sunnyvale, Calif., the FBM expands Lockheed Martin’s already significant presence on Florida’s Space Coast with the addition of 300 jobs.
• U.K.-based Printech Circuit Laboratories has opened offices in Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s John Mica Engineering and Aerospace Innovation Complex in Daytona Beach. A supplier to the U.S. space industry for more than 30 years, Printech will serve its global markets in the “new space sector” from the Volusia County MicaPlex site; a separate manufacturing facility is planned.
• Firefly Aerospace, which established a manufacturing facility at Cape Canaveral in 2019, plans to launch its first advanced rocket for small satellites in late fall from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California if final testing and certification go as planned.
• In Orlando, aviation training firm SIMCOM is building a 95,263-sq.-ft. facility to house its flight simulators and serve as a headquarters. SIMCOM provides pilot and maintenance training over a variety of general aviation, business and commercial aircraft types to customers worldwide.
KEY PLAYERS: Alue Origin, Kent, Wa.; Boeing, Chicago, Ill.; Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Fort Worth, Tex.; SpaceX, Hawthorne, Ca