Space Florida seeks Space Force training site

Mark Bontrager, vice president of spaceport operations for Space Florida, told members of the Florida Senate’s Military Affairs and Veterans Affairs, Space and Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday that his agency is learning from the process of selection of headquarters to prepare for the launch of the training tender. Locations.

“About 16,000 of these people need to be trained and equipped early on from the time they raise their right hand and show up as a young enlisted officer in this force,” Bontrager said.

Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello said Florida is well positioned among states that could compete for training sites because of a workforce that has decades of experience. in the space industry.

“We have such a place of space activity here, and so we’ve trained fighters before,” DiBello said. “We’re also looking carefully at the fact that we have a very, very strong modeling-simulation and numerical domain capability across the state, but certainly in central Florida, that’s a critical part of the training. of the fighter of the future.”

Space Force Base Vandenberg, northwest of Lompoc, Calif., is already one of the sites of the Space Training Readiness Command, or STARCOM, program.

Bontrager said it’s important for Florida to land part of the training process because Space Florida executives will have to return to the facilities multiple times throughout their careers.

Space Force was created less than two years ago. In January, Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama was chosen as the preferred location for the command headquarters, based on factors including infrastructure capacity, community support and cost. An interim headquarters remain in Colorado Springs, Colorado until the permanent site is ready.

Patrick Space Force Base near Cape Canaveral was a finalist for the headquarters under a bid backed by Space Florida.

In December, the administration of former President Donald Trump renamed Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Space Force Base. There are only seven such named facilities in the country.

Bontrager said the Air Force in the command headquarters selection process did not fully consider what Florida offers, such as “unique funding capabilities” through Space Florida.

He added that Space Florida and Enterprise Florida, the state’s corporate recruiting agency, continued to meet with Air Force and Space Force leaders ahead of the training center selection process that will take place. could start in the next 30 to 60 days.

“We are in the process of finalizing a statewide capability statement that we are going to be able to bring to help the Air Force and Space Force understand the assets and capabilities that already exist in Florida and can be positioned in support of this space force. mission,” Bontrager said.

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