By Marco Santana
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As the frequency of launches picks up on the Space Coast, more opportunities have emerged for contractors who do support work. Multiple rockets launch from the Space Coast every month, carrying everything from science experiments to military satellites.
Contractors on Florida’s Space Coast who experienced the post-shuttle era downturn are cautiously optimistic that more business soon will be headed their way.
But the uptick hasn’t happened yet, said Carol Craig, CEO of Craig Technologies.
“You just try to tread water and not make too many big, risky moves until you see where it’s going to go,” said Craig, whose company works in areas that include software development, engineering services and logistics work for defense and aerospace.
SpaceX and United Launch Alliance have already situated significant operations at Cape Canaveral, potentially opening the door for contractors.
In addition, the region’s space industry has been anticipating the arrival of Blue Origin, a rocket launch and development company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, and OneWeb, a satellite manufacturer.
“We know they are hiring more people and that some good stuff is happening,” Craig said, noting that she has lost some employees to these companies. “But it’s probably subdued a little because they are still in the initial stages of development. Once it’s built, you’ll probably see more.”
Areas growing because of an expanding privatization of the space industry include manufacturing components that must adhere to tight specifications, known as “precision machining,” along with launchpad maintenance and construction and diagnostics work, said Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast.
“We are excited about the diversification of the industry, from being a very launch-heavy area to having a robust manufacturing component,” Weatherman said.
Satellite manufacturer RUAG, which recently started production in a Space Coast facility, likely would not have chosen Florida without OneWeb’s arrival.