Florida Politicians Scramble to Preserve Space Program

space shuttle
There are only four more space shuttle flights on NASA's schedule - but Governor Crist says it’s not too late to try and reduce the thousands of expected job losses.
ORLANDO (2010-2-18) -

Governor Charlie Crist unveiled a bill Thursday aimed at bringing new aerospace companies to Florida, as NASA's Space Shuttle program winds down later this year.

Crist introduced the measure at a space conference in Orlando, where political and industry leaders got together to talk about plans to stem shuttle-related job losses.

The new bill would create a space business investment initiative to try to attract more aerospace companies to Florida. The money for the project would come from a new trust fund paid for by sales taxes from visitors to the Kennedy Space Center.

The legislation is called the Space Transition and Revitalization act. It's sponsored by Central Florida Republicans Thad Altman and Steve Crisafulli.

There are only four more space shuttle flights on NASA's schedule - but Governor Crist says it’s not too late to try and reduce the thousands of expected job losses.

"The Legislature meets in about two weeks. You know we want to get this budget approved, these dollars and these resources available so we can help these people." Crist said.

The Governor's proposed budget includes more than $32 million for aerospace investment. The bill introduced at the Space Summit would help pay for those plans.

Meanwhile, Brevard County Democratic Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas says she’s working on a bill that would require NASA to build a spacecraft capable of taking astronauts beyond the range of the Space Shuttle.

Kosmas also spoke at a Space Industry Summit in Orlando Thursday. The meeting comes not long after President Barack Obama told Congress he wants to cancel NASA's program to send astronauts back to the moon.

Kosmas called that proposal unacceptable and said her draft legislation would fill crucial gaps in the country's manned spaceflight plan.

"We are working on an agenda that we think will allow us to continue to have access to the international space station, and that will provide an alternative for us to yes use commercial opportunities but to have a NASA led vision for low earth orbit," she said.

Kosmas didn’t give specifics on her proposal.

Space Coast Republican Congressman Bill Posey has filed a separate bill to keep the Space Shuttle itself flying until 2015.

Democratic Senator Bill Nelson has opposed that idea, citing experts who say the shuttle is too old to continue launching missions.

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