- Retired Space Force Colonel Robert Long has been selected as the next CEO and president of Space Florida by the agency’s Board of Directors after a four-month candidate search.
- Long’s nomination was unanimous, with his enthusiasm and passion for the future of Space Florida noted by Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, who disclosed that Long was chosen from three finalists.
- The outgoing President and CEO, Frank DiBello, announced his retirement in March after leading Space Florida for 14 years, during which the organization significantly contributed to Florida’s commercial space industry growth and achieved various milestones, with a substantial economic impact on the state.
Space Florida’s Board of Directors selected retired Space Force Colonel Robert Long as its next CEO and president on Monday following a four-month-long candidate search.
Described as knowledgeable and enthusiastic, the agency’s Board unanimously nominated Long to take over as its next leader. Moving forward, the Board will engage in negotiations to finalize the agreement terms with Long, followed by the drafting of a contract. Specific details such as the start date or salary have not been provided.
Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez disclosed that Space Florida received 14 applicants once its search began, which was then whittled down to six individuals who were brought in for interviews. From there, three finalists were chosen: Air Force Maj. Gen. John Olson, former chief executive of Virginia Space Dale Nash, and Long.
“[Long] was very enthusiastic and very passionate about the future of Space Florida,” said Nuñez upon her nomination of the former Space Force member.
Outgoing President and CEO Frank DiBello announced his retirement in March after leading the organization for 14 years. Under his leadership, Space Florida played a significant role in the growth of the state’s commercial space industry following the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.
With DiBello at the helm, Space Florida achieved a wide-ranging series of milestones and accomplishments including the development of Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Spaceport. DiBello was also instrumental in attracting new aerospace companies to Florida, such as Blue Origin and OneWeb, and has supported the growth of existing companies like Boeing and SpaceX.
The agency has had a $5.9 billion impact on Florida’s economy since 2007, with projections of a $1.1 billion annual economic impact for the current Fiscal Year.
According to Space Florida’s 2022 Annual Operations Report, Space Florida had 85 total projects in development as of July 1, 2022 with an estimated value of $2.4 billion in capital investment and provided $4.3 million in funding for 30 research projects, partnerships, and grants.