Jeff Bezos

They’ll pass you by in the wink of a young girl’s eye

 Florida has “glory days” ahead for space exploration, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — and GOP governor’s mansion wannabe — predicted Tuesday.

Putnam made the rosy pitch to a space-friendly crowd at the Florida Chamber of Commerce‘s Military, Defense and Veterans Opportunities Summit.

“The golden age for space for Florida, (not) because of our legacy in space, but because of the private sector investment, our golden age is in front of us, not behind us,” Putnam said at the event, held at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld.

Pointing to an emerging billionaires’ space race between Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, Putnam said residents on Florida’s Space Coast should expect hear the regular rumble of up to 60 launches a year.

More than that, Putnam says Florida will need skilled workers to handle the supply chain for businesses like Blue Origin, which plans to open a 750,000-square-foot rocket production facility south of Cape Canaveral by the end of the year. The company plans to start test launches from space leased at the cape (ouch!) by the end of the decade.

That’s where Florida’s military-friendly approach comes in, according to Putnam.

“It didn’t have to be in Florida,” Putnam said. “It could have been on the eastern shore of Maryland. It could have been Alaska. It could have been Texas. It could have been a lot of places. But Florida fought for it and won that increased investment. Military and defense spending in Florida is force multiplier for the private sector investments we’re seeing now.”

By Jim Turner.