Florida's Space Coast is booming with commercial activity

Florida's space coast is booming with commercial activity

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Florida's Space Coast is booming with commercial activity and very soon it will include Northrop Grumman's Omega Rocket.

The company has plans to assemble, test and launch from the Kennedy Space Center.

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After five decades of supporting manned missions to space, NASA's vehicle assembly building, or VAB, is getting its first commercial tenant Northrop Grumman's Omega Launch Vehicle.

The agreement is part of Kennedy Space Center's ongoing transformation from a government only complex to a multiuser spaceport.

"Omega is a three-stage rocket. But, the first and second stage are solid rocket motors. Our caster 600, caster 1200, and then the caster 300 is the second stage, with a liquid upper stage as our third stage," said Jerry Close, Northrop Grumman Omega program manager.

Northrop Grumman anticipates the rocket will support national security missions with the U.S. Air Force and commercial launches.

The Omega Launch Vehicle will be assembled, tested and launched from Florida's Space Coast, which has seen a resurgence since the retirement of the shuttle program in 2011.

"We went from a workforce of 15,000 down to 7,500. But we're coming back, and part of that is the commercial partnerships we're putting in place. And many people that will be working on this new Northrop Grumman Omega Rocket are some of the same folks that worked on the space shuttle," said Bob Cabana, director of Kennedy Space Center.

"Probably in three months here, you'll start to see the tower climb into the sky," Close said.

Meanwhile, the major piece of the puzzle needed to send astronauts back to the moon is set.

NASA announced the most pivotal piece of its mission, the system to launch astronauts to the moon and have them land safely. The mission will be headquartered at Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.