- Associated Press - Sunday, January 4, 2015

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Florida’s Space Coast is anticipating a busy 2015.

Numerous rocket launches and other projects are scheduled throughout the year, Florida Today (https://on.flatoday.com/17aZZ4e ) reported on Sunday.

SpaceX plans to kick off the year on Tuesday with an early morning cargo launch to the International Space Station. Last spring, the company won a 20-year lease of a mothballed NASA launch pad. The company told the newspaper that it plans to finish outfitting the pad by midyear so that it can support launches of its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.

Also planned for 2015, the renovation of two former shuttle hangars at Kennedy Space Center to house a secrete Air force space plane program relocating from California. The Air force is expected to conduct a fourth launch of its unmanned X-37V Orbital Test Vehicle this from Cape Canaveral this year. As many as 24 rocket launches are scheduled this year from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the Air Force said. Sixteen rockets were launched from the station in 2014.

Also planned for 2015, United Launch Alliance will start building a crew access tower near a launch pad, where Atlas V rockets will launch Boeing’s CST-100 capsule.

Space Florida recently announced plans for an unnamed commercial space company to take up residence at one of two state-run pads. Combined state and company investment at the site is expected to total $34 million over five years and add 100 jobs.

After nearly 18 months of negotiation, NASA and Space Florida are nearing a deal for the state to take over control of Kennedy Space Center’s three-mile shuttle runway.

“It really is the centerpiece of Florida’s next-generation commercial spaceport,” said Space Florida CEO and President Frank DiBello.

Space Florida hopes to attract commercial operations to the runway ranging from drones to a suborbital space plane XCOR Aerospace is developing to fly space tourists.

Swiss Space Systems could arrive late this year with an Airbus jet that will fly parabolic arcs to expose customers and researchers to brief periods of weightlessness.

And Moon Express, a California startup developing a small robotic moon lander that is a contender to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE, will return soon to continue flight tests begun last year at the runway.

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Information from: Florida Today (Melbourne, Fla.), https://www.floridatoday.com

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