Florida is an unquestioned leader nationally and internationally in the global aerospace industry. It is home to one of the largest aerospace and aviation industries in the United States with more than 2,000 companies, employing more than 87,000 workers. The Sunshine State is home to 22 airports, three spaceports and dozens of colleges and academic programs that offer aerospace and aviation training.
Virtually every major defence contractor from the United States and abroad has significant operations in Florida, generating a robust supply chain.
Florida consistently ranks in the top five U.S. states for aerospace industry employment, contributing $17.7billion in revenues to Florida’s economy, says the Space Florida website.
Florida’s aerospace industry has diversified strengths, highlighted by NASA and U.S. Air Force rocket launching at Cape Canaveral and development of navigation and guidance control systems in Orlando and Clearwater.
Florida is also a hub for the growing commercial space industry, with current and planned major operations for path-breaking companies such as SpaceX and XCOR.
Kennedy Space Center (KSC), at Cape Canaveral, is one of the main attractions for tourists around the world and it is visited by more than 1.5 million people annually who want to discover more about America’s space exploration program.
The first rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral, or Cape Kennedy as it was later renamed, in 1950 and it was later used for the Apollo missions that successfully landed men on the moon.
For children who want to learn more about the industry, an exciting summer Space Camp is run at the US Space and Rocket Center, at Huntsville, Alabama. The center, which opened in 1970, not only showcases Apollo Program hardware but also interactive science exhibits, Space Shuttle and Army rocketry and aircraft and has more than 1,500 permanent items on display.
Aidan Kenny, son of Garrett Kenny, Chief Executive Officer of Feltrim Group and top salesperson, Angela Kenny of Century 21 Team Feltrim, who lives in Windermere, near Orlando, attended Space Camp earlier in June and can testify that it is ‘out of this world’.
The week-long educational program promotes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), while training students and adults with hands-on activities and missions based on teamwork, leadership and decision-making.
The Space Camp Program, which is designed for elementary school students who have a particular interest in science and aerospace. Aidan and other ‘trainees’ spent the week with a team that flew a simulated Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS).
Once aboard the ISS, the crew participated in experiments and successfully completed an extra-vehicular activity (EVA), or space walk. Aidan and crew returned to Earth in time to hear retired Space Shuttle astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger speak at their graduation.
Students sleep in quarters designed to resemble the ISS and train in simulators like those used by NASA. Nearly 700,000 trainees have graduated from Space Camp since its opening in Huntsville in 1982, including STS-131 astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger and European Space Agency Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.
It’s not just US children that are fortunate enough to attend Space Camp. Last year, children and teachers from all 50 states and 64 international locations took part.