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Aerospace Manufacturing: Florida’s Influence on the Commercial Space Industry

While there is a part of the state nicknamed the “Space Coast,” the manufacturing sector for aerospace products is the largest in Florida. NASA generated over $64 billion in economic output in 2019 alone, of which $6 million was spent in contracting over 33,000 employees. A third of which are the result of NASA’s Moon To Mars program, which sets sights on another lunar landing on the horizon. 

With Florida’s pre-existing infrastructure, there is a large capacity for numerous research projects, and ultimately ground-breaking space travel from companies like Virgin Galactic. This “Silicon Valley of Space” is also a catalyst for other aerospace companies and projects.

Space Flight and Sustainability

NASA and the Kennedy Space Center have been staples of the state for over six decades. After bringing the original shuttle program to a close, the space industry throughout Florida has adapted into commercial flights, along with researching deep space and human exploration capabilities past suborbital operations. 

One of the most sustainable buildings in the aeronautics industry is the Space Coast Solar Energy Center, a collaborative effort between Kennedy Space Center and Florida Power & Light (FPL). The 60-acre solar photovoltaic (PV) facility produces enough emissions-free power for 1,100 households. FPL projects that the facility will save 2.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas, 122,000 barrels of oil, and 227,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions by the end of its life. 

NASA and the University of South Florida

NASA has moved forward with partnering with the University of South Florida (USF)’s Patel College of Global Sustainability to provide sustainability internships, along with collaborating on projects like the HSB Living Lab. The lab focuses on live testing and developing consumption habits that are sustainable for everyday living and potential off-planet conditions. 

In 2020, one of the developed technologies created at USF was sent to NASA: the Organic Processor Assembly, which converts human waste into drinkable water, energy, and fertilizer simultaneously. These efforts encourage further investment into academic STEM programs and jobs on earth while helping astronauts grow and recycle resources sustainably in space. 

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