WASHINGTON? U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)announced legislation this week that would provide tax breaks forinvestors andcompanies seeking to develop commercial spacecraft for transportingastronautsto orbit.
Dubbedthe CommercialSpace Jobsand Investment Act,the measure also would create up to five regional business enterprisezonesaround the United States intended to draw commercial space ventures andcreateemployment opportunities in areas expected to lose jobs when the spaceshuttleis retired next year, according to a Tuesday statement issued byNelson'soffice.
"PresidentKennedy was right when hepredicted that space exploration would create a great number of newcompaniesand strengthen our economy," said Nelson, whose state is home to NASA'sKennedy Space Center (KSC). "What we're doing now is everything we cantoensure KSC's continued importance to our nation's space explorationeffort,while also broadening the economic opportunities along our SpaceCoast." [Top10 PrivateSpaceships Becoming Reality]
Nelsonannounced the legislation the same dayNASA and the U.S. Commerce Department sent the White House a 24-pagereportoutlining plans forspending a proposed $40 million to spur job growth in Florida and otherstatesaffected by the space shuttle's retirement.
Ledby Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and NASAAdministrator Charles Bolden, the President's Task Force on SpaceIndustryWorkforce and Economic Development recommended, among otherinitiatives, a $5million effort to launch a new Commercial Spaceflight Technical Centerat KSCthat could provide safety and technical support for future commercialspacelaunch activities.
Earlierthis month, the U.S. Senate approvedNASA authorizing legislation that recommends funding infrastructuremodernization efforts at KSC as well as a new heavy-liftrocket developmentthat could keepelements of the space shuttle work force employed. Shaped by Nelson andotherlawmakers with a stake in NASA's manned spaceflight programs, theSenate-approved plan also provides enough money for an additional spaceshuttleflight next June.
NASAcurrently plans to fly two more spaceshuttle missions before retiring its three remaining orbiters for goodnextyear. Those missions are set for November of this year and in February2011,though the potential for the additional, third shuttle flight is stillbeingdiscussed in Congress.
OnceNASA's final shuttle missions arecomplete, the U.S. space agency will rely on spacecraft from theRussian,Japanese and European space agencies to ferry crews and supplies to theInternational Space Station until American commercial spacecraft or newNASAspace vehiclesare ready.
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Thisstory was provided by SpaceNews,dedicated to covering all aspects of the space industry.