2. Florida's Space Coast sees startup growth
Florida’s Atlantic coast is experiencing a resurgence of space enthusiasm, but this time it’s driven by Pacific Coast billionaires with thick wallets and brainy entrepreneurs asking for cash, Axios' Kim Hart reports from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Why it matters: It’s been 50 years since the launch of Apollo 11 inspired a generation to pursue space travel. But a decade ago the Space Coast was hit with an economic double whammy — NASA’s shuttle program was canceled, and the nation was drowning in a devastating recession, just as renewed global competition raises the stakes.
- Meanwhile, Space Florida, a state-chartered economic development program, and various economic development groups stepped in to promote aeronautical business in certain areas to fill the void left by the shuttle program.
- Steve Case, AOL co-founder and venture capitalist, spent Tuesday touring the Space Coast on his "Rise of the Rest" tour that highlights startups and innovation outside the usual tech hubs.
What's happening: Today, the space center sees frequent launches, thanks in part to Elon Musk's SpaceX. As soon as this month, SpaceX plans to launch satellites to low earth orbit to provide broadband service.
- Jeff Bezos' BlueOrigin is expanding its facilities here.
- So is OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture with Airbus that just got a $1.2 billion investment from Softbank. The company plans to build hundreds of low earth orbit satellites to beam broadband.
- Boeing, Embraer, Harris Corporation, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman employ thousands of people.
The big picture: The big companies have helped attract technical talent and nearby colleges are graduating a steady stream of engineers. But the private space tech ecosystem is still young, and local officials are trying to boost the fledgling startup scene.
What's next: NASA plans to return to the moon in 5 years, but can't do it alone, said Kira Blackwell, who runs NASA's iTech program, which matches new space tech companies with private investors.
"Technology is moving so quickly that it makes much better sense for us to partner with entrepreneurs to put boots on the moon."— Kira Blackwell
Go deeper: Read Kim's full story.