Lawmakers and industry celebrate Space Day

Tuesday was the 25th annual Space Day at the Capitol.
Photo Submitted by Chris Johnson.

Tuesday marked the 25th annual Florida Space Day at the Capitol, as aerospace companies and officials talked to lawmakers and lobbyists about the future of space commercialization and Florida’s role in the aerospace industry for years to come.

According to the official Florida Space Day website, the event “presents an opportunity to educate and bring awareness to Florida legislators on the significance of the aerospace industry and its impact on Florida’s economy” and was developed to “ensure that Florida remains at the forefront of the nation’s space program.”

Zula Casanova, a design engineer for Boeing, said the annual event is an important day for her industry.

“(The legislators) vote is what allows the budget to come to us so we can finish and finance projects,” Casanova said.

“Whether it’s (a space launch) or something like that, they’re the ones that allow us to get the money we need for those things. Space Day is to tell them thank you for supporting us and to continue to support us as we finish launching.”

Aerospace companies such as NASA, SpaceX and Space Florida set up information tables in the Capitol’s rotunda on the third floor and had rockets and other space technology on display throughout the day in the Capitol courtyard.

Former astronaut Eileen Collins, who was the first woman space shuttle commander, was the special guest speaker for this year’s proceedings. She participated in a meet-and-greet in the rotunda late Tuesday afternoon.

“I want you to know right up front that what you are doing today is very, very important,” Collins told legislators and officials in attendance for the Space Day reception on the 22nd floor of the Capitol Tuesday evening. “I believe that our future, not only as the United States, but our future as a planet is in space exploration.”

Governor Ron DeSantis spoke at the reception as well, noting that President Trump has been “receptive” to his requests to “help out Florida" in the past and he expects him to do so when it comes to space.

“Today I formally requested that the president locate the space combatant command in Florida and a place like Cape Canaveral I think will make a lot of sense. As you know, we already have three combatant commands located in the state of Florida … To have the space combatant command somewhere in Florida would obviously be good for jobs and economy, but it would also make Florida the epicenter of our nation’s space mission, which is where we want to be.

“The excitement that we’re going to see from this the next five, 10, 15 years … you’re going to see some really significant achievements and I think if we do it right a lot of that will be done in the state of Florida,” the governor added.

Many industry partners, including SpaceX, Florida A&M University, the University of Florida and Lockheed Martin, put Florida Space Day together.