XCOR evaluated several sites before settling on Florida. It was wooed in part by more than $4 million in state and local economic incentives and a skilled technical workforce idled by the end of NASA’s space shuttle program last year.
The proposed site, to be located at the Shuttle Landing Facility, would include a hangar, flight operations center, manufacturing and assembly plants and a center to support space flight participants.
XCOR said it hopes to open its KSC site in October 2014. The company expects to employ about 150 engineers and technicians by the end of 2018, said chief operating officer Andrew Nelson.
Commercial suborbital spaceflights are expected to bring in between $600 million and $1.6 billion in revenue within a decade after the start of operations, a recent study commissioned by the U.S. government and the state of Florida shows.
“When you have a vehicle like Lynx flying you can expect to see technology clusters around it,” Nelson told community leaders and guests at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Thursday, where the Florida expansion was announced.
In the wake of the shuttles’ retirement, NASA is in the midst of transforming its Florida launch site to handle a variety of government, commercial and military space and aviation projects.
XCOR previously announced it was moving its corporate headquarters and setting up a research and development center in Midland, Texas, lured in part by $10 million in financial incentives.
XCOR’s agreement with NASA to use the Shuttle Landing Facility is still pending, said Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida, a state-backed economic agency that is brokering the deal and contributing $3 million to the project.