TITUSVILLE, Fla. - Plans to build the world's largest Mars simulation are back on track in Titusville.
Interspace, a space-themed attraction and research facility, could open as early as 2016 and employ 200 workers, according to Mark Homnick, manager of NewSpace Center LLC, the company planning to build the complex.
The facility would let visitors spend a day or more in a 22,000-square-foot replica of Mars.
"We felt it was very important for people to know about the space frontier," Homnick told Local 6 News partner Florida Today. "They will actually live and work as if they were a settler on Mars."
The idea was pitched to city and county leaders in 2008 and the company secured $1.4 million in combined property tax breaks over seven years, starting when project is built.
But the plans were shelved as the economy soured.
"With the poor economy and bad financing, everybody tightened their belts and put their money in the mattress," said Paul Kosieracki , chief financial officer for NewSpace Center.
NewSpace Center is a subsidiary of 4Frontiers Corp., an emerging space commerce company focused on settlements on Mars.
Last month, NewSpace Center launched an effort to attract investors for the $80 million Titusville attraction, hoping to capitalize on a growing interest in the exploration of Mars.
"If we can get $35 million to $40 million of equity funding, we will break ground at this time next year," Kosieracki said.
The attraction would be on State Road 407 near Interstate 95 on a 75-acre site leased from the Titusville-Cocoa Airport Authority for 50 years, documents show.
Another attraction in south Titusville welcomes the additional tourism-based business with hopes of luring new visitors during their stay or encourage them to return to the area during another vacation.
"I don't think it will hurt business at all," said Barry Shepherd, executive director of the American Police Hall of Fame and Museum in south Titusville. "We believe that activity breeds activity."
He also thinks that another venue for visitors would also benefit the local economy by filling hotels and restaurants.
"Any activity that is going to bring people in from the outside works well for everybody," Shepherd said.
Day guests at Interspace will train and have access to portions of the Mars simulation for about $90. Multi-day guests will become settlers who work and live in the simulation for about $750 a day, including food and lodging.
The company wants to make the guest part of the attraction and estimates more than 240,000 will visit annually.
"We remove the barrier between the guest and the experience,'' Homnick said. "The guest is the experience. They are directly involved."
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