Senator seeks tax breaks for space ventures
Senator Bill Nelson's legislation would give tax breaks to those who invest in space ventures to offset job losses from the end of the shuttle program.
Tue, Aug 17 2010 at 3:24 PM
SPACE JOBS: Florida is expected to lose between 8,000 and 9,000 jobs when the shuttles are retired, and jobs in Texas and Alabama will also be lost. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida - U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, proposed on Tuesday legislation that would introduce tax breaks for investments in commercial space ventures to offset job losses from the end of the U.S. space shuttle program.
Florida, where the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral serves as the shuttle launch site, is expected to lose between 8,000 and 9,000 jobs when the NASA space agency transporters are retired after two or three more flights. Jobs in Texas and Alabama will also be lost.
Nelson plans to introduce a bill amending the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to let investors write off 20 percent of their investments in commercial space firms operating in special enterprise zones.
The bill envisions up to five such zones in the United States, which would be selected by the Department of Commerce in areas impacted by the loss of space jobs.
"What we're doing now is everything we can to ensure KSC's continued importance to our nation's space exploration effort, while also broadening the economic opportunities along our Space Coast," Nelson said in a statement.
The proposal dovetails with an initiative by President Barack Obama's administration to replace NASA-owned and operated launch services with commercial space taxis.
Congress has not yet passed a spending plan for NASA for the year beginning October 1, or decided how to bridge the gap in U.S. human space flight that will open when the shuttles stop flying next year.
Until a replacement vehicle is ready, the United States will be solely dependent on Russia to fly crews to the International Space Station, a $100 billion project involving 16 nations, which has been under construction 220 miles above Earth since 1998.
Russia currently charges NASA about $51 million per seat for a ride on its Soyuz spacecraft. The price goes up to $56 million in 2013.
Obama also wants to spend $40 million in Florida and $60 million elsewhere in the county to soften the upcoming space sector job cuts.
A task force headed by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden submitted a report this week that suggested spending $35 million for a competitive grants program in Florida, and $5 million to staff a new Commercial Spaceflight Technical Center at the Kennedy Space Center.
(Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Jerry Norton)
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