• Secret mini-shuttle program will bring jobs to Florida's Space Coast


    BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - On Friday Boeing announced it is expanding its secret space plane project to Florida's Space Coast.

    The deal for the X-37B program has been in the works for more than a year, but the announcement comes with very few details because of the top-secret nature of the program.

    Boeing won't even tell us exactly how many jobs will be created.

    In Dec. 2012 the unmanned mini-shuttle launched on an Atlas rocket for what was described as a top secret mission.

    There is a recent news report indicating that it still hasn't landed, but officials would not confirm that

    Now officials have said those shuttles will take off and land at the Kennedy Space Center.

    Channel 9's Kathi Belich emailed Boeing officials to ask how many jobs might be created by the program and how much those jobs might pay. Officials said it is a "proprietary program" and that the information cannot be released.

    U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., told Belich that the jobs will be high-paying engineering and tech jobs.

    "How many jobs? I expect when they make the announcement it will be several hundred," Nelson said.

    Since the Pentagon took over the X-37B program after the shuttle program ended there has been speculation that the space drone is doing military surveillance or bombing missions or even disrupting satellites.

    The program is expected to bring down the unemployment rate in Brevard County.

    At the height of the space shuttle program the Kennedy Space center employed 15,000 workers.

    When the shuttle program ended the work force was cut to 7,500.

    Nelson said the deal with Boeing will lead to more expansion and employment.

    "It's now up close to 8,500 and it will climb at KSC up to around 10,000 and stabilize," Nelson said.

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