Politics, Economics and America's Spaceport

NASA and the aeronautics industry became significant components of Florida's modernizing economy almost immediately. Florida's new identity as the nation's spaceport has garnered much political attention and demanded long-term planning by those committed to space exploration and high-tech industries as means to ensure that the state retains its privileged position.

NASA tour of the Kennedy Space Center (19--)

NASA tour of the Kennedy Space Center (19--)

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The Florida beach where man left Earth to walk on the moon has become a unique tourist attraction, visited by thousands each week. Launch Complex 39 is a highlight of NASA-sponsored tours of the Kennedy Space Center.

Costumed Spaceman greets tourists at Kennedy Space Center: Cape Canaveral, Florida (19--)

Costumed Spaceman greets tourists at Kennedy Space Center: Cape Canaveral, Florida (19--)

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The impacts of the space industry were not confined to Brevard County. By the end of the Apollo Program, according to surveys conducted for NASA by the First Research Corporation, Broward, Orange, Palm Beach, Dade, and Hillsborough counties all had more than 10,000 space-related jobs, as well as new households. Of the more than 3 million employed Floridians at the time, 200,000 played a role in landing Americans on the moon. (William Faherty, Florida's Space Coast, 116-119).

Tourists look at a lunar module: Cape Canaveral, Florida (1970)

Tourists look at a lunar module: Cape Canaveral, Florida (1970)

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Motel signs representing space programs Cocoa Beach, Florida (1958)

Motel signs representing space programs Cocoa Beach, Florida (1958)

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Astronauts greeted by President Nixon upon their return (1969)

Astronauts greeted by President Nixon upon their return (1969)

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Though separated by the Mobile Quarantine Facility's window, President Richard Nixon greeted the returning crew of Apollo 11. L-R: Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin Aldrin.

Governor Bush and astronaut David Brown conversing with astronauts at the International Space Station from the Florida House chamber: Tallahassee, Florida (2001)

Governor Bush and astronaut David Brown conversing with astronauts at the International Space Station from the Florida House chamber: Tallahassee, Florida (2001)

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Astronaut David M. Brown was born on April 16, 1956. He died on February 1, 2003 when Space Shuttle Columbia was destroyed during entry just 16 minutes prior to the scheduled landing.

Mission Change and New Horizons

One of the greatest successes witnessed at the Kennedy Space Center was the successful development and repeated launching of reusable orbiting spacecraft, the Space Shuttles. After two new buildings were installed at the center to handle the shuttles, a 15,000-foot-long, 300-foot-wide runway was added. Launched atop conventional rockets, the space shuttle reentered the earth's atmosphere at more than 18,000 miles an hour.

More than a hundred space shuttle flights have sent orbiters to study space and map the earth, construct and outfit the International Space Center, successfully deploy the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and perform ongoing repairs of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral were the central research, planning, and launching areas for the nation's major space missions. From the early days of Mercury and the human space flight program, to the lunar preparation mission, Gemini, the Apollo lunar landing missions, and through the Skylab, Space Shuttle, and Great Observatories programs.

The center on Florida's east coast has served as the departure gate for every American manned mission and hundreds of advanced scientific spacecraft. Kennedy Space Center has continued to provide the setting for NASA's more recent accomplishments, including the International Space Station, the launch, ongoing servicing of and research with Hubble Space Telescope, and the much celebrated Mars Exploration Rovers.

Over the years, state lawmakers and officials of the aeronautics industry have sought to maintain Florida's unique position as the most highly developed and accomplished region in the world in the arena of space travel. Established by the Florida legislature in 1989, the Spaceport Florida Authority conducted feasibility studies concerning the need for continued commercial development of the state's space launch infrastructure and to study the impacts of emerging international competition, especially from China, Europe (Arianespace), Russia, and Japan.

Space shuttle Discovery flying over Florida's capitol building (1992)

Space shuttle Discovery flying over Florida's capitol building (1992)

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The space shuttle Discovery, riding piggyback on a 747, made a detour on its route from Texas to the Kennedy Space Center and did a low flyover of the Capitol.

Air Force Space Museum parade float in Governor Kirk's inaugural parade: Tallahassee, Florida (1967)

Air Force Space Museum parade float in Governor Kirk's inaugural parade: Tallahassee, Florida (1967)

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Shown at the intersection of Jefferson Street by Butler's Shoes and McCrory's.

Neil Armstrong and Leonard David gesture during a meeting of the National Commission of Space: Tallahassee, Florida (1985)

Neil Armstrong and Leonard David gesture during a meeting of the National Commission of Space: Tallahassee, Florida (1985)

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"Former astronaut Neil Armstrong gestures here Friday during the public testimony portion of space applications relative to information on oceanography as Leonard David, director of research for the Commission also gestures."

Governor Bob Martinez begins the Florida Spaceport Authority meeting: Tallahassee, Florida (1989)

Governor Bob Martinez begins the Florida Spaceport Authority meeting: Tallahassee, Florida (1989)

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"Florida Governor Bob Martinez, center, gestures as he discussed Spaceport goals to newly appointed members of the Florida Spaceport Authority. They got their first meeting underway here Monday."

Florida Governor Haydon Burns congratulating space industry leaders (between 1965 and 1967)

Florida Governor Haydon Burns congratulating space industry leaders (between 1965 and 1967)

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Governor Burns congratulated space industry leaders on formation of the Florida Defense-Space Industries Association, Inc., an industry-led organization hoping to secure more defense and space related contracts for Florida industry.

Commissioner of Agriculture Doyle Conner meeting Major General Leighton I. Davis as Governor Bryant looks on (1962)

Commissioner of Agriculture Doyle Conner meeting Major General Leighton I. Davis as Governor Bryant looks on (1962)

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U. S. Senator Spessard L. Holland standing with the first lunar astronauts (ca. 1969)

U. S. Senator Spessard L. Holland standing with the first lunar astronauts (ca. 1969)

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L-R: Neil Armstrong, Edwin E. (Buzz) Aldrin, Senator Holland, and Michael Collins.

A worker heli-arc welding at the Visioneering Company: Sarasota, Florida (1959)

A worker heli-arc welding at the Visioneering Company: Sarasota, Florida (1959)

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Heli-arc welding is one of the processes that transform rare and exotic metals into space-age products at the Visioneering Company, Inc. The company was founded in 1935 by O.F. Quartullo, an engineer and rocket pioneer.

Faced with the challenge of adapting new metals for guidance and aircraft parts, he purchased ultra-precision lathes in Switzerland and set up a metal-working plant that handles beryllium, magnesium, gold, silver, nickel and cadmium, to mention a few of its glamorous materials.

Teachers nominated for space travel (1986)

Teachers nominated for space travel (1986)

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Florida Teacher-in-Space nominee Susan Forte of Pensacola, introduces Senator Pat Thomas, D-Quincy, to the state's other astronaut/teacher nominee Mike Reynolds of Jacksonville. The two were honored in the legislature.

A worker inspecting finished beryllium parts at the Visioneering Company: Sarasota, Florida (1959)

A worker inspecting finished beryllium parts at the Visioneering Company - Sarasota, Florida

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These rocket and missile component parts made at the Visioneering Company are meticulously made from the rare metal beryllium. This light-but-strong materials is able to withstand such tremendous heat variations that it is slated to be used in the Project Mercury space capsule that will orbit the first U.S. man around the earth. Critical dimensions of the parts shown here are held to within 1/25,000,000 of an inch.