State, AF dedicate Launch Complex 36
By Chris Calkins, 45th SW Public Affairs
/ Published October 23, 2008
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- The Air Force and Space Florida made history during a dedication ceremony held here Wednesday morning as Space Launch Complex 36 was officially made available for operational use by the State of Florida, subject to completion of the environmental impact analysis.
People attending the historic ceremony included Florida Governor Charlie Crist, Florida Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp, Space Florida President Steve Kohler, 14th Air Force Commander, Lt. Gen. William Shelton, and 45th Space Wing Commander, Brig. Gen. Susan Helms, and Gen. (Ret.) Lloyd "Fig" Newton.
General Shelton stated the Air Force supported the initiative because it will make it easier for commercial launch providers to launch from the U.S. Having domestic launch options provides the U.S. with a solid foundation for our national security.
This is a great partnership that is mutually beneficial to both the Air Force and the state," he said. "We take great pride in helping foster the success of the commercial space sector; I'm confident the spirit of innovation and the cooperation that made this a reality will continue in the years ahead."
Governor Crist also had positive things to say about the agreement.
"Florida has always been home to big ideas. The entrepreneurial spirit is woven into the DNA of Florida's economy," the governor said. "And thanks to the Air Force's decision, the door is now open to innovation and space opportunities never seen before. In tough economic times, it is important we do not sit idly by - but that we invest in economic opportunities for the future.
"What a tremendous opportunity to ensure that space exploration is a top priority, and that the U.S. remains a leader right here from Florida," he said with emphasis.
According to Space Florida officials, the reconfiguration of Launch Complex 36 will strengthen not only the state's aerospace industry, but other growing economic sectors such as biotechnology and environmentally friendly energy technology vital to Florida's future The Launch Complex will support light- to medium-lift vehicles that go into low-Earth orbit and beyond.
Space Florida's president sees this historic dedication ceremony as the beginning - both literally and figuratively.
"The Air Force assignment of Launch Complex 36 is an important next step to extending access to space," said Steve Kohler, Space Florida president.
"We are now making that available to both defense and security initiatives, with multiple commercial payload and launch activities for both civil and private space businesses that want to launch from Florida. This direction by the Air Force, together with the tremendous support by the state, opens the door to attracting, supporting and sustaining national and international aerospace business here in Florida," he said with a smile.
This effort is also in line with the mission of the 45th Space Wing, according to Brig. Gen. Susan Helms, wing commander.
"Our primary mission here is to assure access to the high frontier," she said. "This proposal better enables us to execute that mission. It's the ultimate 'win-win' situation for both the Air Force and the State of Florida," she said.