If it’s Boeing (space) – it’s going to Florida
TITUSVILLE, Fla. — After the end of the Shuttle Program it appeared space operations at the Cape might be on the downturn. Appearances can be deceiving however. Boeing, the largest aerospace company in the world – is moving some of its operations to the Sunshine State.
Boeing announced on Wednesday, June 19 that the headquarters of its Space and Launch division would be relocated to Titusville, Florida. At present, those headquarters are located in Arlington, Virginia. With Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base, all situated along Florida’s Space Coast and with Boeing’s X-37B and Starliner spacecraft already flying or about to fly from the Cape – the move makes sense.
“Looking to the future, this storied Florida space community will be the center of gravity for Boeing’s space programs as we continue to build our company’s leadership beyond gravity,” said Boeing Defense, Space & Security President and Chief Executive Officer Leanne Caret via a company-issued release. “The time is right for us to locate our space headquarters where so much of our space history was made over the past six decades and where so much history awaits.”
Boeing already has a substantial presence at KSC and the Cape. The USAF’s classified X-37B shuttle launches from Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41). SLC-41 is also the site where Boeing hopes to complete not one, but two test flights of the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft later this year (2019).
This newly-announced move should help Boeing build on the infrastructure it has in place after six decades of working at the Cape. In recent years, Boeing has expanded its presence at Kennedy Space Center in particular.
After the close of the Shuttle Program, Boeing entered into agreements with NASA to use the shuttles’ Orbiter Processing Facilities for the company’s X-37B and Starliner vehicles. With some of their key spacecraft being processed at KSC, moving the headquarters nearby could aid in efficiency in the processing and fielding of these vehicles.
Spacecraft can’t reach their destination without rockets to send them to orbit and Boeing is involved with the production and development of these as well. As a part of United Launch Alliance (which was founded in December of 2006 as a joint venture with Lockheed Martin) Boeing is working toward the qualification and first operational flights of the new Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle.
In terms of crewed missions into deep space. The 102-year-old company is prepping the first core stages of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) super-heavy lift rocket. The Artemis-1 mission, SLS’ maiden flight could take to the skies as early as July 2020. However, a report published by The Washington Post suggests that mission might not launch until June of 2021.
“Boeing has been a dominant presence on the Space Coast for six decades, and this move represents a continuation of that legacy and future commitment,” said Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Space and Launch. “Expanding our Boeing presence on the Space Coast brings tremendous value for our commercial and government space programs through focused leadership, strategic investment, customer proximity and additional contributions to the vitality of the region.”
Boeing’s space-related operations are spread across the entire United States with facilities located in California, Texas, Alabama, Colorado and Louisiana. Boeing is involved in a wide range of space-related activities including operations on the International Space Station as well as U.S. national defense, telecommunications and scientific endeavors.
“Boeing will continue to be a dynamic space presence in its existing locations, contributing to the vitality of those aerospace hubs, collaborating with our regional partners, and inspiring future generations of space engineers, technicians and innovators,” Chilton said.
Naturally, Boeing is working to ensure continuation of services during this transitional period.
“No impact is expected for Boeing space operations in other states. We will retain our space workforce in existing locations in California, Texas, Alabama, Colorado and Louisiana. This includes employees in the satellite business in Southern California, in the International Space Station program in Texas, and the Space Launch System program in Louisiana and Alabama. Boeing Defense, Space & Security (BDS), which Space and Launch is a part of, is headquartered in Arlington, Virginia,” Rebecca Regan, a spokesperson with Boeing told SpaceFlight Insider.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.