NewsLocal News


Team working to land spacecraft in Tallahassee area

Goal is to highlight STEM opportunities in Big Bend and Florida
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Photo Date: 5/30/2020
Posted at 6:00 PM, Oct 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-20 19:02:15-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — As Florida’s “space coast” sends rocket after rocket into orbit, a team in Florida’s capital city is working to launch a new initiative of their own. The group of entrepreneurs in tech is firing up a new idea to bring more business to the capital city by installing a rocket for display.

“It think it’s a really exciting opportunity for our community,” shared Elizabeth Emmanuel. She was born and raised in Tallahassee. “To think that we could be a landmark destination for something new and unusual and unexpected.” Emmanuel is also CEO of the Tallahassee Downtown Improvement Authority. She’s part of the group working to bring a piece of the Space Coast to Florida’s capital city.

Elizabeth Emmanuel CEO, Tallahassee Downtown Improvement Authority

“I think it’s important to have those large icons that represent not just our community, but across the state,” Emmanuel explained. She talked about the idea of bringing a spacecraft to Tallahassee. She said it would be a symbol to represent the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or STEM opportunities in our community and our state.

Eddie Gonzalez Loumiet is CEO of Ruvos, a tech firm in Tallahassee. He’s one of the tech entrepreneurs who launched the idea earlier this year. “Let’s make some noise, and let’s remind folks that we’re not only located in the 15th largest economy on the planet and the capital of the state of Florida,” Gonzalez Loumiet said. That number comes from the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Eddie Gonzalez Loumiet CEO of Ruvos

The plan is to bring a rocket or capsule that has traveled to space and back to Tallahassee for display. “For the local economy, having some sort of symbol that resembles and symbolizes all the hard workers, all the amazing tech that’s happening in our community would be great,” Gonzalez Loumiet added. “I think Tallahassee is a tech city. We’re known to be the magnet capital of the world. I believe in the next five to ten years people will call us the data capital of the world,” he said.

Gonzalez Loumiet explained more than 300 tech companies or people who work in tech in our community have been identified. Many of them registered on the newly created site, Launch Tally. The original plan was to place the rocket near the downtown area. His team has been in conversations with aerospace organizations across the nation to bring a rocket. Those organizations include Space-X, the Mars Society, and movie prop makers in Hollywood.

NASA astronauts arrive at the International Space Station on SpaceX Spacecraft, Photo Date: May 31, 2020

“Any time you see large, public art or intrigue like that, it’s an incredible opportunity for increased foot traffic downtown,” Emmanuel said.

The cost of bringing the rocket comes in at around $200,000 by Gonzalez Loumiet’s estimate. “Ruvos will contribute in some way. We’re gathering folks. It’s less about the money and it’s more about having folks be involved in this movement,” he explained.

It’s a movement to put Emmanuel’s hometown on the map as a tech center and gateway to Florida’s economy. “These are things that people actively seek out. They will statistically spend more time. They will spend more money,” she said.

Tech Town concept

This group is also working with designers to see about creating a "tech town." Gonzalez Loumiet said it would provide facilities, co-working spaces, innovation labs and office spaces. They’re considering building near Tallahassee International Airport to help attract business in that part of Tallahassee.