The U.S. Senate’s $692.2 billion defense budget includes provisions that would allow far more frequent private rocket launches from Cape Canaveral and other provisions that should help Florida, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson declared.

The bill, approved by the U.S. Senate late Thursday and by the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, includes provisions to upgrade the launch infrastructure at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which could lead to as many as two launches a day from the Cape, a boon to the rapidly-growing commercial space industry, Nelson, a senior member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a news release.

The bill heads for President Donald Trump‘s desk.

The bill also includes funding to support automated launch safety systems and reusable launch vehicles.

The bill also includes $299 million for improvements to Florida’s military bases, including a special operations simulation center at Eglin Air Force Base near Pensacola, a special operations simulator and fuselage training center at Hurlburt Field, also near Pensacola, a fire station at  Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City, a “Guardian Angel” facility at Patrick Air Force Base near Cape Canaveral, and a wastewater treatment plant at Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville.

It also includes improvements to testing and training ranges, including at the Eastern Gulf Test and Training Range off Elgin AFB.

There also is a provision that should make Mayport a more desirable port for the Navy. A news release from Nelson’s office said a provision would require the Navy to consider a port’s ability to mitigate risks associated with natural disasters and improve fleet response times when deciding where to homeport future ships. These considerations, the release offered, would help make Mayport a natural choice for future home-porting of a nuclear aircraft carrier and additional amphibious ships.

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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