Press Release

NASA and Starfighters Make Agreement on Shuttle Runway Use

By SpaceRef Editor
October 22, 2009
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA and Starfighters, Inc., of Tarpon Springs, Fla., are partnering to use the space shuttle runway at Kennedy Space Center to help support the development of the commercial space industry. Kennedy and the aerospace company have signed a cooperative space act agreement enabling Starfighters to become a tenant at Kennedy where it will launch a new business venture with a fleet of privately-operated Lockheed F-104 Starfighter aircraft.

The new venture also is enabled by Space Florida, which has entered into separate agreements with Starfighters to use a state-built hangar at Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility, or SLF, and to provide other business assistance.

Under the agreement, Starfighters will be permitted to use the SLF on a regular basis to conduct flight operations supporting the test, development, and training activities associated with the emerging commercial space launch industry, and to advance aerospace and space-related technology. It also will be permitted to house and perform maintenance on its aircraft at the SLF and will reimburse NASA costs associated with its operations at the center.

“This agreement with Starfighters aligns well with NASA’s mission and national space policy direction to support and enable the U.S. commercial space industry,” said Kennedy Center Director Bob Cabana. “This activity also will help diversify our uses at the SLF in a manner compatible with NASA’s operations, and help us sustain the SLF as a unique asset supporting horizontal space launch and recovery after the shuttle retires.”

Starfighters plans to operate its aircraft to simulate suborbital vehicle trajectories and provide both training and technology development for the reusable launch vehicle industry. In addition, the firm may provide flight test services to NASA and other government users, for other spaceflight and aviation test activities and other uses approved by NASA pursuant to the agreement. Starfighters recently was awarded a blanket purchase agreement from NASA’s Airborne Science Program from the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

The company plans to relocate all operations to Brevard County and expects to employ as many as approximately 20 highly-skilled workers to assist and develop its operations at Kennedy.

Starfighters responded to Kennedy’s 2005 request to industry for interest in use of the SLF, and previously flew several test flights from the SLF as a demonstration project, which included testing of a NASA-developed range safety system and an investigation of the sonic boom characteristics to be anticipated from suborbital vehicles taking off from and returning to the SLF.

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SpaceRef staff editor.