Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
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NEWORLEANS-- NASA has selected an economic development agency called 'Space Florida' to operate and maintain the historic landing facility at the Kennedy Space Center.

'This agreement will continue to expand Kennedy's viability as a multi-user spaceport and strengthen the economic opportunities for Florida and the nation,' said NASA administrator Charles Bolden.

A similar public-private partnership has been in place at NASA's Michoud Assembly Center in New Orleans for the past several years.

Boeing and Lockheed are now building rockets and crew capsules next door to a movie sound-stage and a growing number of high tech commercial ventures now leasing space from the space agency.

'We're turning Michoud into a multi program environment for both government, DOD, NASA and commercial entities so was can use our unused space to offset the cost to the taxpayers,' said NASA Deputy Chief Operating Officer Malcolm Wood.

NASA contractors, combined with the other various commercial and government entities at Michoud now employ about 2600 workers. That's about the same number once employed at the facility, assembling external tanks for the Space Shuttle program.

But Michoud remains firmly in the middle of the latest space race to Moon, Mars and beyond. Much of NASA's new rocket system is being built there.

'Our focus right now is the space launch system which is the next rocket that NASA has to go beyond lower earth orbit,' said Wood.

With a 2016 deadline to deliver the first SLS heavy lift rocket, Boeing is expected to add about 500 new jobs here over the next two years.

'The construction phase is in progress right now,' said Wood. 'As soon as that's over Boeing will be in full production sometime next year and into 2015.'

NASA is now planning to test the New Orleans-made Orion crew capsule during an unmanned flight in 2014.

The first test for the new rocket system will be in 2017.

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