Lynda L. Weatherman: Florida’s Space Coast is World’s Premier Gateway for Civil, Defense and Commercial Space

By  //  January 25, 2021

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Brevard County at the forefront of aerospace innovation since the beginning of the Space Age

Lynda L. Weatherman: ‘Florida’s Space Coast is the world’s premier gateway for civil, defense, and commercial space’

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Florida has stood at the forefront of aerospace innovation since the beginning, and veterans working in the industry have accomplished things once thought to be impossible and transformed into the nation’s premier aerospace hub.

The Apollo 11 moon landing. The first-ever crewed commercial spaceflight from SpaceX docking at the International Space Station. The footage of those feats is iconic, and it all started on Florida’s Space Coast.

Florida has stood at the forefront of aerospace innovation since the beginning, and veterans working in the industry have accomplished things once thought to be impossible and transformed the Space Coast into the nation’s premier aerospace hub.

Located approximately 35 miles east of Orlando, Space Coast stretches over 72 miles of the Atlantic Coastline with most of the region found within Brevard County where 20% of the population are active duty, veterans, and their families.

Today, the Space Coast economy is booming as companies invest billions of dollars across a variety of aerospace sectors in recent decades, leading to unprecedented manufacturing job growth that’s 2.8 times the U.S. average as the space race to Mars and beyond heats up.

“Florida’s Space Coast is the world’s premier gateway for civil, defense, and commercial space,” said Lynda L. Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast.

“However, its prowess now extends beyond launch to the engineering and production of rockets, spacecraft, aircraft, payload and electronics, and ground support. The biggest names in aerospace, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, L3Harris, Northrop Grumman, Embraer, United Launch Alliance, SpaceX, and Blue Origin have chosen Brevard County to locate operations and executive leadership because it serves their missions, bottom lines, and workforce.”

“Florida’s Space Coast is the world’s premier gateway for civil, defense, and commercial space,” said Lynda L. Weatherman, president and CEO of the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. (EDC image)

An Air Force and Lockheed Martin ATLAS IIA sits poised on Space Launch Complex 36A. This ATLAS IIA Space Launch Vehicle, designated AC-129, is carrying an INMARSAT-3 F3 satellite.

An Air Force and Lockheed Martin ATLAS IIA sits poised on Space Launch Complex 36A. This ATLAS IIA Space Launch Vehicle, designated AC-129 is carrying an INMARSAT-3 F3 satellite.

Florida is an undisputed national and global leader in the aerospace industry, which contributes more than $20 billion to the local economy each year.

The state ranks #2 in the U.S. for the number of aerospace and aviation establishments and is home to more than 17,000 aerospace-related companies that employ 130,000 Floridians. The Space Coast is the epicenter of human space flight and manufacturing with more than one-third of the state’s aerospace employees working in the region.

And Space Coast’s aerospace companies offer more opportunities than just the development of space vehicles and rockets. Researchers, engineers, and manufacturers of aircraft, guided missiles, and satellites are also prominent sectors.

Overall, Florida’s aerospace careers pay an average salary of $95,000 annually. And remember: Florida residents pay no state income taxes.

Growing opportunities and sustainable employment aren’t the only things Space Coast has to offer. Annually ranked as one of the top places to live in the country by the U.S. News & World Report, Space Coast boasts 73-degree annual average temperatures, a brief 23-minute average commute time, and an affordable median home price of $213,000.

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Space Coast’s Top Aerospace Employers

The need for a skilled workforce has never been greater on the Space Coast and veterans are in high demand. Here are some of the region’s major aerospace employers.

NASA

NASA needs aerospace engineers, scientists, technologists, and technicians to accomplish its most ambitious missions of the 21st century: Sending the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, landing humans on an asteroid by 2025, and ultimately, taking the next giant leap to Mars in the 2030s.

Founded by Elon Musk, SpaceX employs thousands of people from the Space Coast and is the catalyst for the region’s sustained economic growth. (SpaceX image)

SpaceX

Founded by Elon Musk, SpaceX employs thousands of people from the Space Coast and is the catalyst for the region’s sustained economic growth, becoming the first private company to capitalize on its aerospace infrastructure by leasing two orbital launch sites from NASA. With a massive expansion of rocket facilities potentially on the horizon and after a record-setting 2020 with 24 missions reaching orbit, SpaceX’s future on the Space Coast couldn’t be brighter.

Blue Origin

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin recently finished construction on a rocket manufacturing facility where hundreds of local aerospace employees are now assembling the New Glenn, which is scheduled to launch in 2021. Plans include a further expansion of the facilities and considering the 50-year lease with NASA, it’s safe to say Blue Origin’s Space Coast operations won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

L3Harris Technologies

L3Harris Technologies, headquartered in Melbourne, is the largest aerospace and defense company in Florida and a top 10 defense company worldwide, generating $17 billion in annual revenue. L3Harris employs more than 7,000 in Central Florida where the contractor focuses on its Space & Airborne and Integrated Missions divisions in Palm Bay, which plans to modernize and sustain infrastructure for the U.S. Space Force.

Lockheed Martin employs more than 9,000 people across its Orlando and Space Coast campuses. (Lockheed image)

Lockheed Martin

A Lockheed Martin Atlas IIAS launch vehicle (AC-135), carrying an EchoStar III communications satellite, is ready for launch on complex 36B.

A Lockheed Martin Atlas IIAS launch vehicle (AC-135), carrying an EchoStar III communications satellite, is ready for launch on complex 36B.

Lockheed Martin employs more than 9,000 people across its Orlando and Space Coast campuses. Rocket and missile development are Lockheed Martins’ primary focus in the region, and they expanded its Fleet Ballistic Missile headquarters in Titusville and won a contract with NASA to assemble the Orion spacecraft — both adding hundreds of new aerospace jobs to the area.

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For more than six decades Boeing has been one of Space Coast’s most vital manufacturers and took a big step in 2019 by relocating its Space and Launch division headquarters from Arlington, Virginia to Titusville.

Boeing

For more than six decades Boeing has been one of Space Coast’s most vital manufacturers and took a big step in 2019 by relocating its Space and Launch division headquarters from Arlington, Virginia to Titusville to meet the growing demand for spacecraft and satellite launches from the region. Boeing also operates a joint venture with Lockheed Martin known as the United Launch Alliance, which launched six of its Atlas V and Delta IV-Heavy rockets into orbit in 2020.

Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman arrived on the Space Coast in the 1960s and its aerospace engineers immediately made history by creating the Apollo Lunar Module, the first spacecraft to land a man on the moon. With more than 4,000 employees in the region, Northrop Grumman is working alongside Lockheed Martin and Boeing to assist NASA in constructing the Space Launch System — the most powerful rocket ever developed that aims to send astronauts back to the moon in 2024.

Start Your Aerospace Career

For veterans and transitioning service members, the choice is clear: Space Coast is the top destination for aerospace opportunities. Take the first step today by registering with Veterans Florida Career Services, and our team of veterans will provide you one-on-one career assistance to help you land a career in Florida’s booming aerospace industry.

The Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast is dedicated to attracting new business and investment and expanding existing industry throughout the Space Coast, influencing change on government laws and regulations affecting economic development, promoting the Space Coast to encourage new investment, supporting efforts of Space Coast military installations, and relaying new programs and procedures to assist manufacturing and high-tech companies.

The EDC is a private, not-for-profit coalition whose stakeholders are business leaders committed to the economic growth and stability of Florida’s Space Coast.

Visit www.SpaceCoastEDC.org

Veteransflorida.org