Space Coast hopes manned SpaceX launch will help jump-start economy

For the first time since 2011, American astronauts will blast off from U.S. soil. Florida’s Space Coast company is officially ready for liftoff.

After falling on some hard times, Space Coast is looking to restart the economy and revitalize Florida by welcoming back tourists and visitors. “We certainly saw an economic downturn after 2011 when the shuttle program left because a lot of people connected to the space program became unemployed or they relocated,” said Peter Cranis, Space coast Office of Tourism Executive Director.

But now’s the time to bring people back to witness history unfold while exploring the beautiful duality that is Florida. Cranis said, “It’s an exciting time to be here. Where else can you go to have beautiful beaches and watch a launch at the same time?”

In this Thursday, March 19, 2020 photo made available by SpaceX, astronauts Doug Hurley, foreground, and Bob Behnken work in SpaceX’s flight simulator at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., as SpaceX teams in Firing Room 4 at Kennedy Space Center and the company’s Mission Control in Hawthorne, Calif., along with NASA flight controllers in Mission Control Houston, run a full simulation of launch and docking of the Crew Dragon spacecraft. (SpaceX via AP)

People in the area are very excited according to Former Florida Senator and Astronaut Bill Nelson. “There is an excitement at the Cape that you have not seen since the space shuttle was flying,” he said.

Nelson believes exploration is a part of our collective DNA as Americans. Nelson said, “It’s in our DNA. It’s in our nature as Americans. We are by nature explorers and adventurers. We always had a frontier. Now that frontier is upward and it is inward as we learn more and more about ourselves and our environment and this planet on which we live.”

This April 2020 photo made available by SpaceX shows the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft undergoing final processing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla,, in preparation for the May 27, 2020, Demo-2 launch with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (SpaceX via AP)

Executive Director Cranis believes it’s time for this new era of space exploration to give Floridians and all Americans something to be excited about in the shadow of coronavirus. “I’m hoping that it gives people hope and a little glimmer of positivity in a pretty rough time we’ve had the past few months,” said Cranis.

The Space Coast Tourism Office is ready for takeoff as they welcome guests into the open hotels for the launch. They also recommend watching from the beach at a safe, social distance.

Watch “America’s Return to Space” live launch special Wednesday on WINK News at 4 p.m.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
Writer:Drew Hill
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