CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The end of the NASA's shuttle program was a blow not just to space enthusiasts but to the local economy around the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Now a new partnership with a private aerospace company is raising hopes that space travel and some jobs could be returning.
Coming soon to the Kennedy Space Center, rocket planes like this one.
It's just the thrust the space coast needs post-shuttle program.
XCOR Aerospace, based in California, said adventurous tourists will be able to hop on board starting in 2015.
"After three minutes you're at Mach 3 and a half, continue up to 350,000 feet,” XCORS’s Andrew Nelson said. “You're wearing a pressure suit, a real astronaut experience.”
The two-seater craft is called the “Lynx” and for a mere $95,000, anyone can ride with an experienced astronaut pilot to sub orbit.
Nelson said they envision up to four flights a day.
It starts at the KSC’s 15,000-foot long, 300-foot wide runway, the spot where 78 orbiters returned to earth until 2011.
The difference here, these planes are taking off and landing.
But if the company is testing them in California’s Mojave Desert, why fly here?
“Imagine 30-something million visitors coming to central Florida, the home of human spaceflight,” Nelson said. “And the employee base is so good here, they know how to do things the right way.”
Taking advantage of former shuttle workers, the company needs technicians, engineers and operational personnel based in Brevard County.
They expect to hire more than 150 people by 2018.