Kennedy Space Center will be Home to a Major Satellite Production Plant

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Kennedy Space Center will be home to a massive satellite manufacturing facility that would cost $300 million to build and provide 2,100 jobs with an average annual income of $84,000 by late 2025, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday.

Terran Orbital has preferred the Launch and Landing Facility operated by Space Florida, the state’s aeronautics and space flight development agency, for a 600,000 square-foot plant to manufacture small satellites for commercial and national defence use, the governor announced at a news conference at the site.

“This will be the largest satellite manufacturing facility in the entire world,” DeSantis said.

According to Dale Ketcham, vice president for government and external relations at Space Florida, the state is investing $40 million in improved infrastructure at the site, which was formerly a landing zone for the space shuttle, including roads, power, retention ponds, and communications systems that will benefit all of the companies operating there.

Terran will also receive assistance from the state in arranging the $300 million in private investment, he said. “The debt is owed to the private sector, not the taxpayers.”

In addition, Ketcham stated in a telephone interview that the company might be eligible for additional funding through a 50:50 match with the Florida Department of Transportation.

Last year saw 1,200 satellites launched into space, triple the number during 2019, with projections that 50,000 satellites will have been launched by 2030, DeSantis said.

He pointed to additional recent deals, including a May agreement with Sierra Nevada Corp. to use the facility to land its Dream Chaser space plane, which is designed to send supplies to the International Space Station; to bring the headquarters of CAE USA, which operates flight-training facilities, to Tampa International Airport; and to bring the headquarters of Redwire Space, which makes space-flight components, to Jacksonville.

DeSantis has also pushed for vocational education to help employees prepare for jobs in the space industry.

The total statewide investment in commercial space exploration is $1.5 billion, according to Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, chairwoman of the Space Florida board of directors.

In addition to rocket launches, the industry includes supply chain, manufacturing, and logistics, Nunez said, providing thousands of “high-quality, high-wage jobs.”

Terran CEO Marc Bell said the facility will manufacture “CubeSats,” or powerful, miniaturized satellites tiny enough to “fit into the palm of your hand.” To monitor oil spills, wildfires, and national security threats, the devices use radar to penetrate cloud cover, storms, smoke, and even to pierce the night.

The facility will handle all aspects of satellite construction, including the fabrication of all components, he said.

“We will be able to produce over 1,000 satellites a year here and over 1 million satellite components annually, all at a single location here,” Bell said.

The company chose Kennedy Space Center, in Brevard County on the Atlantic coast, because of its historic ties to space flight and its status as “a growing hub for commercial space-based activity,” he said, plus the state’s logistical help and skilled workforce.