Hidden Nook

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

Florida Snubs Space Tourism

[Media Source*]

(Cross Posted on Blogger News)

X Prize Cup organizers narrowed the field to Florida and New Mexico last year, but Florida officials showed scant interest and didn't offer any cash incentives as a lure. When New Mexico lawmakers came up with $9 million, the organizers grabbed it.

Florida had a budget of approximately $64 billion, yet they did not have the resources to help spur an industry that is potentially worth up to a billion dollars (excluding the extra tourism an event would draw to the state). Cape Canaveral (the place of interest) lost it's luster because of security concerns (via the Pentagon) as well as the bureaucratic red tape needed to gain access to the Air Force Station.

Costing between $25,000 to $100,000 to even gain of conversation of using the base (and up to $3 million in additional fees) Florida may have scared away it's future into the lap of competitors like Australia and New Mexico. As NASA continues to be viewed as "inactive" towards it's heavenly vision, it will only be a matter of time before Florida is only remembered for it's "glory days" as it sent men to the moon.

The space industry seems to have a strong demand in it's market--Virgin Galactic alone has 29,000 people interested in flight with tickets starting at $200,000 a piece (flights start in 2008). Despite the potential earnings Florida seems to be "little inclined" to dip it's feet in the private space sector, probably because it already has large contracts with the Pentagon as well as Boeing and Lockheed Martin. If Florida desires to embrace this industry they are going to have to implement the following items lest they be overlooked by other states around the nation.

Unless Florida takes an active role in this, New Mexico will gain the fame of sending men to the moon (tourist style) while Florida will continue to dwindle down as the private sector takes aim at establishing colonies on the lunar surface as well as Mars. If their desire is for government usage, then they can keep their dying "space culture" to themselves.

New Mexico seems interested in hosting these new space pioneers, and if Florida is not interested in having a $5.8 billion dollar industry within it's borders, (which would bring them fame and more tourists) then they will have nothing to complain of when all they are known for is having beautiful beaches and amusement parks. Florida is crossing the stage of history once again, and because they have forgotten their role they may have perhaps missed out on an opportunity to affect the world for generations to come.

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I have to agree with your assessment - FL has committed a major blunder. I was wondering how New Mexico managed to land this event, but I'm not sorry in the least. You see, I live here and I think this will be about the best thing to have happen here since, well, ever!

Note that NM has virtually no major industry with a few exceptions - military facilities (White Sands Missle Range, various AF bases), a couple government research labs (Sandia, Los Alamos), an Intel plant and a couple of universities. (Oh, and I think Ted Turner raises buffalo somewhere in the state.)

As it stands, I can see why Gov. Richardson and the legislature are probably drooling at the thought of billions in income from an industry that uses virtually no resources, with the exception of open space, which we seem to have plenty of.

Lastly, we'll have to see if the "Land of Enchantment" is true to it's official state motto, or if it lapses into the lethargy suggested by the unofficial motto - "The Land of Mañana" ('Tomorrow' -- as in, "I'll get to it tomorrow").

By Anonymous Don McCoy, at 9:07 PM EDT  

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By Darnell Clayton • 5:02 PM • Email Post • •


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