'Project Kraken' could bring 2,100 jobs

An undisclosed space company code-named Kraken is looking at Space Florida’s properties to build a $300 million spacecraft factory that could create 2,000 mostly high-wage jobs in Brevard County.

Space Florida’s board of directors gave approval Wednesday to staff to negotiate with the company to have a satellite factory located near the agency’s launch sites on Cape Canaveral.

Those negotiations could involve creative financing, lease deals, and possibly matching-fund grants from the Florida Department of Transportation.

Space Florida President Frank DiBello told the board Space Florida has competition for the factory from other states.

The company could provide another critical piece within Space Florida’s strategy to build a top-to-bottom commercial space industry that includes everything from equipment and payload suppliers to rocket companies. DiBello and Space Florida Executive Vice President Howard Haug were intentionally vague in describing “Project Kraken.”

The deal they’ll pursue likely is similar to those that brought other space manufacturing and launch facilities to the Cape from Blue Origin, Firefly Aerospace, OneWeb, and other rocket, satellite, and component supplier companies, under former code names such as “Project Panther,” “Project Sabal,” “Project Odyssey” and “Project ICE.”

Project Kraken was described as among the most important to Space Florida’s long-term strategy. The numbers given Wednesday suggest it certainly would be among the biggest deals.

Haug said the company was intending to invest as much as $300 million and create “at least” 2,100 jobs by 2025, with average wages of $84,000 plus benefits.

The company would manufacture small satellites, which are increasingly becoming the dominant payloads going up from either Kennedy Space Center or Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. These satellites could range in size from 2.2 pounds to 1,100 pounds. Telecommunications companies and other industries that put satellites into space are scaling down sizes, going with “constellations” of many small satellites rather than singular large ones. “Our goal is to establish both a quick-reaction launch vehicle manufacturing, integration, and launch capability, for what we call ‘launch on demand,’ as well as projects like the one we have before us today, the satellite-on-demand capability,” DiBello told the board.

The board gave the staff authority to enter into a term sheet with the company, to provide conduit debt structure for facility and equipment acquisition, and a lease agreement. Space Florida has used such deals in the past to arrange for lower-interest financing for companies, with Florida’s space industry development agency holding titles, and then leasing the facilities and equipment to the companies longterm.

That also can make the projects eligible for matching state money through the Department of Transportation’s Space Florida Improvement Program. The contracts would be contingent on Space Florida’s financial due diligence, Haug advised.

Haug said the factory would be built at Space Florida’s launch-landing facility, formerly known as NASA’s space shuttle landing facility.

The board authorized the deal without any questions or debate.

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