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Nelson unveils commercial space plan

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, in a move to further lessen the impact from the wind-down of the space shuttle said on Tuesday a plan is aimed at boosting the commercial rocket industry and attracting thousands of jobs to Florida’s Space Coast.

In meetings with representatives from NASA and various commercial aerospace ventures at Cape Canaveral on Tuesday, Nelson touted a new measure that would create up to five regional business enterprise zones around the country as magnets for commercial space ventures – which in turn would attract jobs to areas where there are lots of scientists and engineers.

There are also implications for Cecil Field in Jacksonville. It is Florida’s only commercial spaceport and is FASA-licensed to be a spaceport.

More specifically, his office said, the Commercial Space Jobs and Investment Act would allow space-related businesses - situated around places like the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to qualify for major tax breaks and other incentives.

“President Kennedy was right when he predicted that space exploration would create a great number of new companies and strengthen our economy,” Nelson said. “What we’re doing now is everything we can to ensure KSC’s continued importance to our nation’s space exploration effort, while also broadening the economic opportunities along our Space Coast.”

Nelson said this new measure is the next critical step to spurring space-industry job growth in the region.

Earlier this month, the Senator pointed out, the Senate quickly and unanimously passed a different Nelson-engineered plan, and the U.S. House of Representatives is considering a comparable measure. The Senate-approved plan provides enough money for another space shuttle flight next year, for jump-starting NASA’s new heavy-lift rocket, and for developing the commercial rocket industry – all of which will save jobs of thousands of displaced shuttle workers.

The new proposal - to give tax breaks to commercial space entrepreneurs - is drawing the support of aerospace industry leaders including those from Space Florida, the state-backed organization charged with promoting the development of commercial rocketry and related undertakings.

“The Commercial Space Jobs and Investment Act symbolizes a significant step forward in ensuring the right incentives are in place to attract industry to Florida, and the broader domestic marketplace,” said Frank DiBello, Space Florida president. He added, “This bill will stimulate the commercial space industry to create jobs in our state, at a time when we need it most.”


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