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CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami) — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wants the Sunshine State to be the gateway to the galaxy.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis makes announcement about Firefly Aerospace Inc. coming to manufacture and launch rockets from Cape Canaveral. (Credit: DeSantis Press Office)

Friday, Gov. DeSantis announced Firefly Aerospace Inc. will manufacture and launch rockets from Cape Canaveral.

The new project will include the capability to locally manufacture, test and launch rockets delivering payloads that will harness the commercial potential of space exploration.

As part of the multi-year $52 million project, Firefly is expected to create 239 jobs on the Space Coast with an average salary of $70,000.

“As the world’s premiere gateway to space, Florida remains the preferred launch site for sending humans and cargo into space,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “Firefly’s decision to establish launch and manufacturing activities on Florida’s Space Coast confirms the commercial advantages of conducting business in our state and reaffirms Florida’s position as a national leader in innovation and job growth.”

Firefly will set up a shop in Space Florida’s Exploration Park, near the gates of Kennedy Space Center, and use Space Launch Complex 20.

The facility will bring new manufacturing, assembly, integration and test services which will contribute to the growing cluster of diversified commercial aerospace support activities at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.

At Exploration Park, Firefly will join Blue Origin, the Jeff Bezos company that is building a launch-vehicle production facility, and OneWeb, a communications company building a satellite manufacturing facility.

The announcement was the second for DeSantis involving Cape Canaveral this week.

On Tuesday, DeSantis requested President Donald Trump set up a “space combatant command” in the state as part of a new military branch called Space Force.

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“I think that this is good for our economy, it’s also just good for exploration,” DeSantis said Friday. ‘I think with our space mission, we’ve got good mojo back.”

The land for the project will be leased by Space Florida.

The project also directly supports small satellite and large constellation launch operations at Cape Canaveral Spaceport.

In 2018, Space Florida entered into a Right of Entry agreement with the United States Airforce to allow Space Florida to enable the redevelopment of the historic 30-acre site for commercial launch.

Firefly co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Tom Markusic, an engineer who has worked for NASA and at SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, said on Friday that government spending on space exploration helps private companies grow.

“Me and Firefly, we really represent the investment and continuing dividends that the state of Florida has made and will continue to pay off,” Markusic said.

Noting a Falcon 9 launch by SpaceX on Thursday night, he said his company has a goal of 24 launches a year.

“We’re going to continue to light up the sky here in Florida with more launches like that,” Markusic said.

No date has been set for the first launch in Florida. For now, the company’s launches will continue at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

(©2019 CBS Local Media. 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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