With the advent of private-enterprise space travel on the horizon, some states are working hard to secure their place in history with the construction of spaceports. Florida is the latest to jump in the ring and it is asking NASA to hand over 150 acres of its land near Cape Canaveral for development.

Florida wants NASA to turn over the land to the state’s aerospace development agency Space Florida, which recently agreed to spend $2.3 million on studies of the area to prepare for the construction of Cape Canaveral Spaceport, a state-owned facility for the purpose of commercial space travel. Now that the space shuttle program has ended, Space Florida believes that the land is more than the government needs and that they can put it to better use, using it to get Elon Musk’s SpaceX to build its third launch site there.

“I’m anxious for the next-generation of providers, both the launch companies and the satellite owner-operators, to have Florida be the place where they seek to do business,” said Space Florida president and chief executive Frank DiBello.

The land in question is partially owned by the state of Florida, with the remainder having been granted to NASA while needed for the federal space program. If it is no longer used for that purpose, the original agreement was that the land would be returned to the state to use as it sees fit. Space Florida plans to use that to their advantage in order to secure the land for its own use and development.

Several other spaceports have either been proposed or are currently under construction in Alaska, Virginia, California, Texas and New Mexico. The most well-known of them may just be Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport America, currently being built out by Sir Richard Branson near Truth of Consequences, NM. However, recent news about financial struggles in the region surrounding the new spaceport have raised questions about the viability of the industry to attract outside investors and vendors. While 500 individuals have signed up to pay $200,000 each for space flights with Virgin Galactic, development around the spaceport has been slow to materialize, which some blame a lack of legislative support in the state to exempt spacecraft suppliers from liability for accidents.

Space Florida hopes to avoid a repeat of what is happening in New Mexico, as it had already passed permanent liability exemption laws necessary to encourage outside investments in their facilities. While the days of watching the space shuttle lift off from Cape Canaveral are over, soon we could be watching commercial spaceships filled with tourists taking off from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport instead.

[via ScienceDaily]

Image Credit: Space Florida