Photo exhibits spotlight various topics in Florida history, and are accompanied by brief text intended to place selected materials in historical context.
NASA Turns 50
Florida's Half Century on the Space Age Frontier
Politics, Economics and America's Spaceport
NASA and the aeronautics industry became significant components of Florida's modernizing economy almost immediately. Florida's new identity as the nation's spaceport has garnered much political attention and demanded long-term planning by those committed to space exploration and high-tech industries as means to ensure that the state retains its privileged position.
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The impacts of the space industry were not confined to Brevard County. By the end of the Apollo Program, according to surveys conducted for NASA by the First Research Corporation, Broward, Orange, Palm Beach, Dade, and Hillsborough counties all had more than 10,000 space-related jobs, as well as new households. Of the more than 3 million employed Floridians at the time, 200,000 played a role in landing Americans on the moon. (William Faherty, Florida's Space Coast, 116-119).
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Mission Change and New Horizons
One of the greatest successes witnessed at the Kennedy Space Center was the successful development and repeated launching of reusable orbiting spacecraft, the Space Shuttles. After two new buildings were installed at the center to handle the shuttles, a 15,000-foot-long, 300-foot-wide runway was added. Launched atop conventional rockets, the space shuttle reentered the earth's atmosphere at more than 18,000 miles an hour.
More than a hundred space shuttle flights have sent orbiters to study space and map the earth, construct and outfit the International Space Center, successfully deploy the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and perform ongoing repairs of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral were the central research, planning, and launching areas for the nation's major space missions. From the early days of Mercury and the human space flight program, to the lunar preparation mission, Gemini, the Apollo lunar landing missions, and through the Skylab, Space Shuttle, and Great Observatories programs.
The center on Florida's east coast has served as the departure gate for every American manned mission and hundreds of advanced scientific spacecraft. Kennedy Space Center has continued to provide the setting for NASA's more recent accomplishments, including the International Space Station, the launch, ongoing servicing of and research with Hubble Space Telescope, and the much celebrated Mars Exploration Rovers.
Over the years, state lawmakers and officials of the aeronautics industry have sought to maintain Florida's unique position as the most highly developed and accomplished region in the world in the arena of space travel. Established by the Florida legislature in 1989, the Spaceport Florida Authority conducted feasibility studies concerning the need for continued commercial development of the state's space launch infrastructure and to study the impacts of emerging international competition, especially from China, Europe (Arianespace), Russia, and Japan.
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