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What's ahead for the Space Coast economy in 2024?

the-nasa-artemis-1-rocket-with-the-orion-spacecraft-aboard-moves-slowly-on-an-11-hour-journey-to-a-launch-pad-at-the-kennedy-space-center-in-cape-canaveral-fla-on-thursday-march-17-2022
John Raoux
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AP
The NASA Artemis rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard leaves the Vehicle Assembly Building moving slowly on an 11 hour journey to pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Thursday, March 17, 2022. While at the pad the rocket and Orion spacecraft will undergo tests to verify systems and practice countdown procedures.

The Space Coast saw a record number of launches this year, but will that hold true for 2024?

Jim Gregory is the Dean of the College of Engineering at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.

WMFE’s Talia Blake caught up with him to find out.

Listen to the full conversation in the player above.

Jim Gregory is the Dean of the College of Engineering at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
Daryl LaBello
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ERAU
Jim Gregory is the Dean of the College of Engineering at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.

3, 2, 1, Liftoff

One of the main missions to watch in 2024 is Artemis II, which will launch astronauts on a trip around the moon, according to Jim Gregory, because it will help set up a whole new lunar economy.

"People may think, Well, who cares about the moon, but there's materials and minerals that are up there to be mined, energy," he said. "There's a whole ecosystem that could develop around the lunar economy and all these new companies, these startups, are positioning themselves to help provide the infrastructure to be able to develop a lunar economy."

Other missions to look out for launching from Space Coast next year include Vulcan Centaur by United Launch Alliance, SpaceX's Starlink Satellites, NASA's Europa Clipper, and Sierra Space'sDream Chaser.

In November, private aerospace leaders called on Florida lawmakers to consider providing more dock space for the industry at Port Canaveral, according to News Service of Florida.

Gregory said the number of launches from Port Canaveral will likely surpass 2023's record and the Space Coast is currently equipped to handle it.

There is potential for adding more launch capabilities in the future, but Gregory said that will be difficult.

"The coast is pretty well developed too. So there's not a whole lot of room to develop new launch capability," he said.

Space industry grows for all of Central Florida

As more launches occur at along the Space Coast, Gregory said that growing cadence is helping create jobs in not only Volusia and Brevard, but all of Central Florida.

"As we create these high paying jobs related to space, those people who have those high paying jobs are then having a positive impact on their local economies, spending in grocery stores and all throughout our communities to share of that wealth," he said.

Beyond the awe of watching a rocket launch, Gregory said everyone should get excited about the space industry's growth because of it's positive impact on Floridians, like job creation.

After a brief stint as Morning Edition Producer at The Public’s Radio in in Rhode Island, Talia Blake returned to WMFE, the station that grew her love for public radio. She graduated with a double-major in Broadcast Journalism and Psychology from the University of Central Florida (Go Knights!). While at UCF, she was an intern for WMFE’s public affairs show, Intersection. In her spare time, Talia is an avid foodie and enjoys working out.
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