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Tarpon Springs company wins right to share runway with space shuttles

A business with strong roots in Pinellas County has won the right to fly jets from the Kennedy Space Center runway where space shuttles land.

The Tarpon Springs company, Starfighters, owns four F-104 Starfighter jets, a type of fighter jet once used by the U.S. Air Force and others. NASA said the business will fly jets from the runway as part of its effort to boost the development of private space flights.

A handful of companies are developing spacecraft they hope to use for "space tourists," who would pay $200,000 or more to fly into space without orbiting the Earth.

Starfighters will help with the training and development in those efforts by using its supersonic jets to fly in similar patterns, simulating what the actual spaceflights might be like.

"It took us a long, long time to get to this point," said Starfighters president Rick Svetkoff, who said his business is now essentially operating from Cape Canaveral. "It's just a great opportunity."

Tarpon Springs company wins right to share runway with space shuttles 10/23/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 23, 2009 6:34pm]
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