The company that looks to send tourists up on a space balloon from Brevard County from the old Kennedy Space Center shuttle landing facility also has chosen to build a campus and manufacturing complex on the Space Coast.
Space Perspective, which has already sent up a successful test flight in 2021 and aims to have its first passengers in 2024, announced it would make the $38 million investment that projects the creation of 240 full-time permanent jobs in Brevard County by the end of 2026. The company said the annual average wage would be $80,000, and hiring will continue through 2022.
“We’re witnessing a revolution in space access and Florida’s Space Coast is now the place for production, as well as launch,” said Lynda Weatherman, president and CEO of the Space Coast Economic Development Commission. “With its selection of Titusville, Space Perspective joins Lockheed Martin, Astrotech, Boeing and others in what is quickly becoming a significant aerospace hub across the causeway from Cape Canaveral.”
The campus and balloon manufacturing facility will be at the Space Coast Airport and Spaceport in Titusville, the updated name of Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville after it was awarded spaceport status in 2020 by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Florida beat out four other states for the campus, according to the company.
“The amazing opportunities in space tourism made the selection process very competitive. Florida and its system of spaceports became the front-runner,” said Taber MacCallum, one of the company’s founders and a co-CEO. “This is a win for the entire state of Florida, as we are planning launch operations from three Florida spaceports.”
Any tax incentives to entice the company to the state were not announced, and would be subject to nondisclosure agreements, according to Dale Ketcham with Space Florida, the state’s aerospace economic development agency.
That’s the same situation with the September announcement from satellite manufacturing company Terran Orbital when it said it would bring a massive factory to Brevard with 2,100 high-paying jobs. Space Florida is also pursuing negotiations under the name “Project Griffin” with an undisclosed company to bring another 2,100 spacecraft manufacturing jobs to a new facility at Orlando-Melbourne International Airport.
Central to Space Perspective’s plans are the construction of a $9 million, 120,000 square foot manufacturing building projected to be up and running within 24 months.
“As space tourism becomes a reality, it is exciting to see its potential to create jobs in Brevard County, particularly those in manufacturing,” said Brevard County Commission Chairman Kristine Zonka. “I am confident that Space Perspective will find the workforce on Florida’s Space Coast to be second to none and a key ingredient as they scale up.”
Existing plans have initial flights of the balloon to begin from the Launch and Landing Facility, now run by Space Florida, at Kennedy.
Reservations are already open for the $125,000-per-person flights on what will be its first passenger-ready balloon, the Spaceship Neptune. More than 500 tickets have already been sold, the company stated. Deposits only require $1,000 down.
Unlike the shorter, much more expensive, but higher altitude flights of Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, the space balloon takes a different approach, offering a six-hour flight, with a two-hour ascent to 20 miles altitude, followed by two hours of floating above Earth before a two-hour descent.
MacCallum and co-founder Jane Poynter, known for living for two years isolated from the world in the Biosphere 2 habitat in the 1990s, have received millions from an investment group that includes motivational speaker Tony Robbins.
Its test flight in June saw its unmanned balloon reach an altitude of 108,409 feet crossing Florida from the east to the west and splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico during a six-hour, 39-minute flight. The company plans a crewed test flight in 2023.
The 650-foot-tall balloon can carry up to eight guests along with the pilot in a capsule that includes a bar and bathroom. It will offer 360-degree views and reclining seats.
The company aims to pilot 25 flights in its first year of operation, flying from locations around the world, but with initial operations from Brevard County.