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Lt. governor visits Space Coast, meets with students about Florida’s future as space capital

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. — Families around the state met on the Space Coast to recognize their children’s artwork capturing Florida’s future as the space capital.

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But it’s more than just an artistic vision.

Florida’s lieutenant governor said the state could see more than 100 launches next year, and the state is leading in several aerospace sectors.

There is also a new effort to prepare young people for jobs in the industry.

Space Florida’s new president and CEO describes it as a “space academy.”

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The curriculum would be aimed at high schoolers but could eventually expand to encourage younger students to pursue the skills needed to work in the aerospace industry.

Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez was at Space Florida on Monday to recognize students from around the state who participated in the 2023 Florida Space Art Contest grand prize winners Ailynn Chen and Rafael Kleiman will have their artwork flown into space on a future SpaceX mission.

It was also an opportunity for the lieutenant governor and Space Florida to discuss the state’s growing aerospace industry.

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“Next year, we have over 101 launches scheduled, so a lot of launches are happening here,” Nuñez said. “But beyond the launches, we also are leading the way in so many sectors of aerospace, including national defense (and) of course, satellite manufacturing.”

Robert Long, Space Florida president, CEO and retired U.S. Space Force colonel, said all of that activity needs a well-trained workforce.

He said they are working with the Department of Education, schools across the state, and the governor’s REACH Office to match the credentials each industry needs.

Space Florida and its partners are mapping out what a “space academy” might look like.

“Across the state, really, the aerospace industry is growing,” Long said. “And we want to make sure that everybody understands that that’s a potential future for them.”

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