Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana presented a flag to the Florida House and Senate during a joint session this morning that kicked off annual Florida Space Day activities in Tallahassee, according to tweets from organizers.
Space advocates plan to meet with every state legislator today to promote the $8 billion industry's importance and new opportunities following the shuttle's retirement last year, including efforts to attract more commercial space activity.
"It is critical that Florida's legislators, local elected officials and the business community work together to lead America's next chapter in space exploration," Jim McCarthy, deputy general manager for URS at KSC and chairman of Florida Space Day 2012, wrote Monday in the Tallahassee Democrat.
Space Florida has identified the following three legislative priorities for the session that opened this week:
-- Space Direction for FDOT (SB634 and HB97): would change the state Department of Transportation's definition of "launch support facilities" to match a broader federal definition, ensuring funding for infrastructure improvements can be applied to the full range of potential projects.
-- Cecil Airport added as Spaceport Territory (SB110 and HB59): would officially recognize Jacksonville's Cecil Field as a new spaceport and part of the state's master planning efforts. Considered complementary to the Cape Canaveral spaceport, Cecil already has a federal license for horizontal launches of suborbital vehicles.
-- Space Infrastructure Revision (SB934 and HB265): would change the way Space Florida is funded, allowing advance payments to help speed up infrastructure projects.
Gov. Rick Scott has recommended a flat $10 million operating budget for Space Florida in the 2012-13 budget year beginning July 1.
Today, Florida native Nicole Stott joins Cabana and Fred Gregory as current or former members of NASA's astronaut corps schmoozing with lawmakers.
IMAGE: "Spaceman" at Capitol courtesy of Florida Space Day 2012.