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Buzz in the commercial space industry

Image of SpaceX's Starship on its launch pad
X (formerly Twitter)
Starship stacked for flight at SpaceX's launch facility in Boca Chica, Texas. NASA plans to use the vehicle to land humans on the moon for the agency's Artemis program.

Booming space news

It’s been a busy few months for space news from SpaceX’s Starship launch to Virgin Galactic’s space tourism flights.

Maria Varmazis, the host of the T-Minus space podcast, said these new commercial space developments have transformed the aerospace industry. Specifically, SpaceX's Starship vehicle.

"The size of starship is not just for funsies, it actually will transform how commercial space works the same way that the Falcon nine has really transformed commercial space in that it's going to drive down costs significantly," Varmazis said.

Along with cost reductions, Starship is nearly 400 feet tall. Its massive first stage, known only as "Super Heavy," is powered by 33 Raptor engines that must fire in perfect synchrony to carry Starship into orbit.

Varmazis said that not only will the technology on the rocket change the industry, but the monetary factors will too.

"This is why people in space, not just commercial space, but even folks like NASA are very excited and hopeful for the success of starship is that it's going to make costs so cheap for sending things out into space, it's going to just open it up to a lot of groups and people who weren't able to access space before," Varmazis said.

The aerospace world in Florida

Florida has a long history with space exploration – like launching the first U.S. astronauts into space and the launchpad for NASA’s lunar missions Apollo and Artemis.

Amy Ross, a spacesuit engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, left, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, second from left, watch as Kristine Davis, a spacesuit engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, wearing a ground prototype of NASA’s new Exploration Extravehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU), and Dustin Gohmert, Orion Crew Survival Systems Project Manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, wearing the Orion Crew Survival System suit, right. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)
(NASA/Joel Kowsky)
Artimis spacesuit NASA

Outside of civilian space, it has a rich history in commercial space, too. Space Florida is the state agency responsible in part for developing that industry, and it has a new leader.

Rob Long, the president and CEO of Space Florida, said the agency’s mission is to build out the private space industry.

"Fundamentally, what Space Florida is for is to create the aerospace infrastructure development and enhance opportunities across the state using our unmatched Financial Toolkit, the incredible experience that we have, and of course, to supporting the unbeatable location we have here in the state," Long said.

Florida's Lieutenant Governor said that it's very possible that launches could hit triple digits along the coast next year, and Long says Space Florida is ready for the jump.

"I think all of our partners largely falls on the shoulders of the Space Force and NASA here, specifically on the Space Coast," Long said. "And of course, from my past life, I had the opportunity to kind of work through some of those challenges, and, and everyone is leaning forward. And I think you're going to see some great things going forward."

Marian is a multimedia journalist at WMFE 90.7 working as a reporter and producer for the 'Are We There Yet?' space podcast.
Brendan Byrne is WMFE's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the WMFE newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing WMFE's internship program.

Byrne also hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration.
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