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Report recommends major expansion of Florida seaport to support space industry

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May16,2024

ORLANDO, Fla. — A new study recommends investing more than $2 billion in a major expansion of a port adjacent to Cape Canaveral to meet the growing needs of launch companies there.

The study, released May 2 by Space Florida, found that current facilities at Port Canaveral are insufficient to serve SpaceX and other companies that will use the port, just south of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, for recovering launch vehicles and spacecraft, calling for both near-term and long-term expansion of port facilities.

SpaceX currently uses the port for its droneships and other vessels used to recovering boosters, payload fairings and Dragon spacecraft, while United Launch Alliance uses the port for delivering launch vehicles manufactured at its Alabama factory. Other launch companies, like Blue Origin and Relativity Space, are expected to set up operations at the port in the next few years as they introduce their own reusable launch vehicles that will land on ships.

Those companies have to compete with other users of Port Canaveral. The port has become a major hub for cruise ships, while the U.S. Navy uses part of the port for submarines.

“While Port Canaveral supports the commercial space industry, existing infrastructure does not have capacity to meet the demands of the expected exponential growth in the space transportation industry,” the report concluded, calling it “a pivotal growth constraint.”

The projections for exponential growth came from estimates provided by launch companies. Those projections in the report went from 197 “recovery/launch operations” involving ships in 2028 to 1,252 in 2073. The report assumed each of those operations would involve four vessels, from droneships to tugboats.

The report recommended both near-term and long-term upgrades to Port Canaveral. In the near term, defined as the next 5 to 10 years, it called for improving part of the port called the Middle Turning Basin, dredging it and building a new wharf to accommodate additional vessels. That would cost an estimated $220 million.

The long-term proposal foresees a major expansion of that basin to the north, running parallel to the Banana River, adding a large amount of additional wharf space for support vessels. That expansion, which includes rerouting roads and other infrastructure, would cost $1.9 billion over 10 to 50 years.

The proposed long-term expansion of Port Canaveral recommended in the report would stretch to the north of the existing Middle Turning Basin. Credit: Space Florida

Financing that development, the report concluded, would require some degree of government funding in the form of transportation grants. Without such grants, the fees charged to ships would dramatically increase to cover costs.

“In response to market demands from the commercial space and maritime sectors and our U.S. military partners, Space Florida spearheaded this study to create a unified path that accounts for the aspirations and missions of both space and port operations,” Rob Long, president and chief executive of Space Florida, said in a statement.

Canaveral Port Authority, which operates the port, was also involved in the study and backed its conclusions. “We look forward to continued collaboration with federal and state partners to realize solutions to ensure the industry’s continued success,” John Murray, chief executive of the authority, said in a statement.

Space Florida said in a statement it plans to look for “strategic federal funding opportunities” to support port expansion, while also working to secure support from other port stakeholders. It added that it plans another study to see how other seaports in the state can support the space industry.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “Report recommends major expansion of Florida seaport to support space industry”
  1. Could the $2 billion investment in the port expansion potentially lead to more job opportunities in the space industry in Florida?

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