State approves deal to take over Kennedy Space Center shuttle runway

Facility could be used for drones, other tests

(Florida Today)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Space Florida's board of directors on Monday approved a deal with NASA to take over management of Kennedy Space Center's former shuttle runway for at least the next 30 years.

The state hopes to attract companies developing space planes that will take off and land like aircraft, carrying space tourists, researchers and experiments to orbit or suborbit, Local 6 News partner Florida Today reported.

The facility could also be used by drones and tests of various other vehicles.

Under the deal, the state will take over responsibility for the runway's annual operating and maintenance costs for 30 years, with extensions possible as tenants sign leases and make long-term investments in infrastructure.

Space Florida plans to spend about $5 million over the next to years to upgrade runway infrastructure that NASA hasn't needed much since the shuttle program retired in 2011.