Monday, October 31, 2011

Boeing and Space Florida Partner to build new capsule at KSC

In a hanger once home to NASA’s shuttle Discovery, Boeing and Space Florida announced a new partnership that will build the aerospace firm’s CST-100 commercial spacecraft in that very facility at the Kennedy Space Center.

The hanger known as Orbiter Processing Facility-3 (OPF-3) was packed with space center employees, NASA officials, Boeing representatives, and state and local officials including Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Space Florida is the state’s aerospace economic development agency. Boeing banners,  and mockups of the capsule-style CS-100 were on display in OPF-3, which will be utilized to manufacture, assemble, and test the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100.

“It’s more fun to talk about the future than what we’ve done in the past,” said Scott. Economic development officials said the agreement could create up to 550 jobs for the Space Coast region. In a statement regarding the partnership, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said, “Neither NASA nor the Space Coast can afford to stand still. We must be aggressive in pursuing this next generation of space exploration -- and the jobs and innovation that will accompany it.”

Boeing’s CST-100 capsule, which will carry a crew of seven, is being developed under NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program, which has awarded the company about $131 million through two rounds. The program’s intent is to foster the development of commercial systems able to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station by late 2016. Four private spacecraft are in development.
In a press release issued by Boeing, the company cited several reasons for choosing to consolidate their CST-100 development at KSC.

"We selected Florida due to the cost benefits achieved with a consolidated operation, the skilled local workforce, and proximity to our NASA customer,” said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager of Commercial Programs for Boeing Space Exploration. “Pending the continued selection of Boeing for future Commercial Crew development and service contracts, and sufficient NASA funding, we project a Commercial Crew program workforce ramping up to 550 local jobs by our scheduled operational date of December 2015. The CST-100 will provide NASA with reliable, safe, and affordable transportation to the International Space Station and other destinations in Low Earth Orbit.”

"We are extremely pleased that Boeing will locate its Commercial Crew headquarters here in Florida," said Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida, the State’s aerospace economic development agency. "This positions our state well for future growth and a leadership role in NASA's next generation human space exploration initiatives. It is also a key factor in ensuring Florida's space-related economy continues to thrive after shuttle retirement."

Boeing is working with Space Florida on agreements to use Kennedy Space Center’s Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 3 (OPF-3) and Processing Control Center (PCC) facilities for Commercial Crew program execution. The OPF-3, previously used to perform maintenance on the space shuttle orbiters, features approximately 64,000 square feet of manufacturing and processing areas and about 64,000 square feet of office, laboratory and logistics areas. The PCC consists of approximately 99,000 square feet of control rooms and office space Boeing plans to use to support mission operations, training and program offices. The PCC previously supported shuttle orbiter testing, launch team training, and computer system software and hardware development and maintenance operations.

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