Nelson: Kennedy headed back to the future
August 31, 2006
ORLANDO ( FL ) – NASA’s decision to select Lockheed Martin to build the nation's next manned spacecraft will keep high-tech jobs in Central Florida and save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, according to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.
The new spaceship will be built by a team led by Lockheed Martin and will take astronauts on missions to low-Earth orbit and then on trips to the moon.
The Lockheed team previously announced that, if it won, it would assemble the spacecraft in Florida, which Nelson says will eliminate costs from duplicative labor in multiple states and from transporting the space craft repeatedly across the country.
“This brings Florida back to the future as the epicenter of the nation’s space program,” Nelson said. “And our space program advances our national security, strengthens our economy, improves life here on Earth and inspires the next generation of scientists and engineers.”
More specifically, NASA’s decision will mean hundreds of new high-tech jobs in Florida. It also means there will not be massive layoffs when the current shuttle program shuts down. Further, it increases astronaut safety when you have the assembly team working side-by-side with the launch team, Nelson said.
Last October, Nelson gave a big boost to the state’s effort to attract to Florida the companies competing for work on the future space craft when he helped win a commitment from Lockheed to assemble it at the Kennedy Space Center. The state government put up an incentive package valued at $45.5 million for the winning contractor team.
The spaceship, referred to as the Crew Exploration Vehicle, will be named Orion. Its first flight with astronauts is planned for 2012 to 2014. Its first flight to the moon is planned for no later than 2020. A fleet of Orion spacecraft will replace the space shuttles.