Space Florida Integral to New Commercial Venture, 20 New
High-Tech Jobs Anticipated
NASA and Starfighters, Inc. signed
a formal Space Act Agreement Thursday, enabling Starfighters, a
private aerospace company that operates high performance fighter
aircraft, to fully utilize the Shuttle Landing Facility
(SLF). Starfighters will conduct flight operations
providing commercial space flight training, support research and
development, test and engineering for the benefit of the emerging
commercial space industry, and to otherwise advance aerospace and
space-related technology in Florida.
Space Florida and Starfighters began initial discussions in 2007
and officially partnered in 2008, when Space Florida reached an
agreement for the aerospace company to house and maintain aircraft
in the State-owned and operated Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV)
Hangar, located adjacent to the SLF.
"Our alliance with Space Florida is a natural fit," said Rick
Svetkoff, Starfighters President and Chief Pilot. "We both want to
see the commercial aerospace industry grow in Florida. With Space
Florida's assistance, we are making real strides toward that
As part of the new agreement, Starfighters will operate its
fleet of Lockheed F-104 Starfighters at Kennedy Space Center (KSC).
Currently the company has four vehicles in the fleet, but
anticipates adding five more in the coming months. The
vehicles can simulate suborbital vehicle trajectories and provide
both training and technology development for the reusable launch
vehicle industry. Starfighters currently has 10 employees
scattered across Florida. In the coming months, it will
relocate these employees to KSC, and also expects to employ up to
20 additional highly-skilled workers to perform vehicle maintenance
and other technical work at its KSC operations.
"We're thrilled for Starfighters. This agreement with NASA-KSC
exemplifies the gradual shift toward commercial space industry
development, and is an example of a Florida-based company we were
able to keep and help expand its operation in Florida," noted Frank
DiBello, Space Florida President. "While our state has always been
known to excel at the launch of spacecraft, businesses like
Starfighters will help prove that we have the capability to handle
research and development, testing, engineering and training
activities. We are delighted that it will also serve as a
catalyst for additional business as well."
Space Florida and Starfighters are in negotiations to extend the
original lease agreement at the RLV Hangar. As part of the
alliance, Space Florida may also assist Starfighters in securing
additional long-term funding to fully establish their operations
and headquarters at KSC.
In a NASA press release today, KSC Director Robert Cabana
stated, "This agreement with Starfighters aligns well with NASA's
mission and national space policy direction to support and enable
the U.S. commercial space industry."
The aerospace company is also currently in discussions with NASA
and other government users to provide flight test services under
Starfighters recently awarded blanket purchase agreement from
NASA's Airborne Science Program from the Goddard Space Flight
Center in Maryland.
Starfighters has previously flown several operational test and
evaluation flights from the SLF, which included NASA sponsored
Pathfinder Trajectories for Orbital and Sub-Orbital Flight
Environmental Impact Studies, Autonomous Flight Safety Systems with
INS and GPS Termination Measuring payloads and Station High
Sensitivity Ocean Research Experiments.
Starfighters' landmark agreement with NASA-KSC sets the
groundwork for additional commercial opportunities to come to KSC
in the future.