Florida’s Space Coast is experiencing a resurgence in activity. Among the top five U.S. states for aerospace employment and home to more than 17,000 aerospace-related companies, Florida’s aerospace sector has contrib-uted $17.7 billion dollars to the local economy.

As the aerospace industry evolves rapidly, Florida has a larger mission: to be the world’s top launch pad for space flight.

Space Florida, the state’s spaceport authority responsible for the development of its aerospace industry, is promoting existing opportunities and developing projects that will expand the business across the state.

“There is a new space race upon us. Human space exploration is back with NASA pushing a return to the moon. Satellite technology is continually advancing in order to bring better connectivity through bandwidth speeds,” President and CEO Frank DiBello said.

While Florida’s aerospace industry was once largely reliant on federal funding, the state has strengthened its position by developing its commercial space sector. Among the companies that have built facilities in the area are SpaceX, Blue Origin, Boeing and OneWeb.

“The future of aerospace is in public-private partnerships. Technology in the private sector is developing at a much more rapid rate. Space is still a largely untapped market that private companies want to pursue,” said DiBello.

Space Florida is making sure that it can support future growth in the industry by increasing the capacity of launch facilities, advanced manufacturing in rockets, satellites and spacecraft, improving manpower training and providing innovative financial tools.

As more aerospace companies locate to Florida, the state seeks more overseas partnerships. In 2017, several leading Japanese aerospace companies and representatives from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency attended the first Florida-Japan Aerospace and Aviation Summit.

“We’re very open to work with the Japanese. Their strong presence in robotics and artificial intelligence is an area in which we see strong synergy.” DiBello said.