Sunday, August 10, 2008

Florida Today: Editorial: Eating Dust - California Unveiling Shows Florida Getting Left Behind

A recent Editorial from Florida Today takes issue with the state's handling of an opportunity to land the deal to be a host site for Richard Branson's space tourism program and poses the challenge to do better going forward:

With a healthy dose of razzle-dazzle, British entrepreneur Richard Branson on Monday pulled the cover off his space tourism "mother ship." The unveiling happened in Mojave, Calif. -- not Cape Canaveral -- in another example of how Florida is still eating dust in attracting the 21st century barnstormers who are striving to create commercial space ventures. Branson says 100 people have already paid $200,000 each for a seat with countless more possible if the price could drop to $40,000-$50,000. He hopes to start flights in a few years and the Cape will again lose out with the missions staged from New Mexico.

Florida officials dropped the ball on Branson's project a long time ago, showing neither the hustle or imagination to bring it to fruition. But the future holds more possibilities, which they should pursue with a vengeance. That means loosening the government red tape that prevents entrepreneurs from putting down roots at the Cape and making the spaceport far more business friendly. It also means using the shuttle runway at Kennedy Space Center for commercial start-ups after the shuttles retire. Florida can't afford to miss another boat like Branson's. (8/1)

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