‘Jacksonville has become a center of space technology’: Bill Nelson tours local space tech company

NASA Administrator visits RedWire in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Did you know Jacksonville is home to a leading space technology company?

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson was in town Tuesday, touring RedWire, a company working on developing 3D printing so astronauts can actually manufacture things like satellites in space.

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The concept is simple: It’s a lot cheaper to build big structures once you’re already in space than it is to build them on earth and have to launch them into orbit.

The folks at RedWire are at the cutting edge, developing the tech to make in-space manufacturing a reality.

During the tour, Nelson was shown a spool of filament, about the size of a car wheel.

RedWire leaders told the NASA Administrator a single spool can be used to 3D print a 50-foot structural beam… in space.

“So, you see the value of getting it that small for launch,” said Nelson.

It’s just one of the technologies NASA Administrator Bill Nelson came to see at RedWire HQ in Jacksonville.

Eventually, the goal is to be able to create entire satellites in space, even 3D printing bases on the moon using lunar dust.

“In addition to it being, especially when you get to the moon and subsequently to Mars, being more efficient material, but it also enables the mission because you get there and you realize that you maybe forgot something or you lost something or you need something that you didn’t anticipate bringing with you,” said RedWire CEO Peter Cannito.

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It’s the technology being developed here in Jacksonville that will help propel the public and private sectors deeper into space.

“Jacksonville has become a center of space technology because of stuff that you have just seen,” said Nelson.

RedWire President Andrew Rush, a UNF alum, said the company has ballooned from just two employees to over 150 in its eight years in the city.

He doesn’t see space tech slowing down in the Bold City any time soon.

“I really think that we’re going to grow significantly here and just like you see other kinds of tech hubs form around a core company, that could very well be in Jacksonville’s future,” said Rush.

RedWire’s tech will be put to the test for an in-space demonstration in 2023.

Before then though, Nelson said NASA will return to the moon this August with its first unmanned mission to the lunar surface in half a century.