TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Space jobs are returning to the Space Coast.

On Monday, Gov. Rick Scott, state officials and Boeing executives announced that they will being building the next generation of U.S. manned space vehicles at the Kennedy Space Center.

Boeing will manufacture and test the spacecraft, dubbed Crew Space Transportation-100 or CST-100, with hopes of employing more than 500 workers by 2015, the year the new vehicle is scheduled to begin extensive flight testing and have its first commercial launch.

The company said it plans to have more than 150 workers in place by 2013.

Kennedy will also be home for the CST-100 headquarters, a designation that will bring administrative jobs to the region.

The new vehicle, which is being touted as a relatively inexpensive, reusable launch technology, will be able to carry up to seven people and cargo into space. Its first recurring destination is expected to be the International Space Station, which until then will rely upon Russian rockets to ferry supplies and crew members to the orbiting station.

“Florida has five decades of leadership in the space industry, which makes our state the logical place for the next phase of space travel and exploration,” Scott said in a statement.

Under an arrangement with Space Florida, the company will renovate a processing center previously used to perform maintenance on shuttle orbiters. The 15-year lease will help cushion the loss of thousands of jobs that left with the end of the space shuttle program.

“We selected Florida due to the cost benefits achieved with a consolidated operation, the skilled local workforce, and proximity to our NASA customer,” said John Mulholland with Boeing’s Space Exploration program..

The announcement comes as welcome news to the region following the end of the 30 year space shuttle program.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service Of Florida contributed to this report.)


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