Space-focused companies in the Jacksonville region are working diligently on innovative projects and expanding into new endeavors. Aerospace companies are finding an ample supply of skilled workers from the local military units and the Department of Homeland Security aviation operations. Approximately 3,000 military separations each year choose to remain in the region.
With a talent pipeline in place and major projects in motion, Jacksonville continues to grow its presence in space, making the list along with eight other Florida cities to be in the running as the new Space Force headquarters. Jacksonville has made the first cut largely in part to the region’s aerospace industry’s existing infrastructure necessary to support such operations. Cecil Spaceport, the relocation of the Made In Space and Redwire headquarters, Northrop Grumman extensive operations and Mayo Clinic’s aerospace medicine work, among others, have created an “ecosystem of commercial aerospace companies that is likely to grow.”
The “business of space” expansion and the value of public-private partnerships are bolstering growth even further. A recent example is Made In Space, an advanced space manufacturing company that relocated its corporate headquarters from California to Jacksonville earlier this year. The company has been steadily growing, and that growth was enhanced through assistance from Space Florida who introduced a new way of collateralizing debt. In a similar vein, Cecil Spaceport’s potential as a place for private sector space activity was made possible because of several years of planning and work that went into the site by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA).
The recent momentum is backed by a long list of space industry wins throughout Northeast Florida. Cecil Spaceport is the only licensed horizontal launch commercial spaceport on the East Coast and one of only six in the country. Last year, Aevum, Inc. won a $4.9 million contract from the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center to launch small satellites to low Earth orbit from the site and Generation Orbit Launch Services completed a successful test of liquid rocket engines, a necessary step toward full launches.
The current trajectory of projects truly makes the region poised to be a leader in the space industry and aerospace manufacturing in the very near future.