The Midland Development Corp. is on the verge of filling the second empty building at the Spaceport Business Park.
The MDC board will vote Monday to allow its executive director to negotiate and execute an economic development agreement with Kepler Aerospace, Ltd., which, according to its website, “is developing both highly efficient and economically viable satellite delivery systems.”
MDC Chief Operating Officer Sara Harris told the Reporter-Telegram that the sublease agreement is in final review with Kepler Areospace’s legal team. The agreement calls for Kepler to occupy the empty, 17,000-square-foot building – once occupied by Orbital Outfitters – at the business park.
Harris said the deal does not include a cash inventive, but that if Kepler meets contractually obligated milestones, it will receive lease abatements for three years. The deal is almost identical to the MDC’s deal with Avellan Space Technology & Science made in late 2018, she said. AST, which designs and manufactures miniature satellites, took over the hanger once occupied by XCOR Aerospace. The company has received rent abatements for reaching its negotiated goals.
Harris said the agreement with Kepler calls for the company to create at least 20 new jobs, $2 million in annual payroll and have $80 million in personal property investment by its third year.
“Those are conservative estimates,” Harris said.
That means Midland’s spaceport — which has been a hot-button issue politically after failed deals with XCOR and Orbital — could be home to two satellite companies that between them promise at least 190 full-time jobs, $15 million in payroll and $94.25 million in capital improvements, personal property and inventory investment at the property.
While AST has moved its corporate headquarters to Midland, Kepler Aerospace will continue to have its headquarters at Cape Canaveral, Florida, Harris said.
Harris said Midland’s spaceport and its location at a commercial airport are factors in Kepler’s interest in Midland.
Kepler’s website states that it “has several technologies in the fields of microwave, propulsion and energy and has recently filed for 8 Trademarks in both the flight and defense-use categories.”
“The company is currently developing and commercializing many of these technologies such as its proprietary plasma, or high energy electrical power, technology to generate propulsion, thrust, lift and flight,” Kepler’s website states. “The Company has also developed several other proprietary propulsion, energy and microwave burst technologies, can be used in several configurations and are currently being developed by the company as technologies to be marketed to the military and defense industries.”
Kepler officials include Buzz Aldrin, a spokesman, government liaison and advisor; and Midlander Autry C. Stephens, chief executive officer of Endeavor Energy Resources. Stephens is listed as an advisory board member and local government liaison.
The Midland Development Corp. board will vote on the agreement at its meeting set for 10 a.m. Monday at the basement conference room at City Hall.
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