The University of Central Florida’s Florida Space Institute begins a new era this week as it relocates from Cape Canaveral to a new home in the Central Florida Research Park.

The center, which over the course of 22 years has conducted research and trained hundreds of students in the mechanics of building satellites, payloads and other space hardware and the science of launching them into space from facilities near the Kennedy Space Center, is moving to the UCF Partnership I Building, next to UCF’s main campus.

The move will enable the center to strengthen its ties to the campus community and is part of a broad plan to position FSI to serve a key resource in shaping the future of the nation’s space program.

“For years FSI has played a critical role in advancing space science and providing an educated work force for the companies that support the nation’s space mission,” said M.J. Soileau, vice president for research & commercialization at UCF. “As the nature of the space program changes it makes sense for us to more closely align FSI with all areas of campus that have an investment in space.”

For example, students in critical science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields as well as students and faculty in social sciences, history, simulation and modeling could all benefit from closer interaction with the center, he said.

In September UCF hired S. Alan Stern, a respected former NASA science administrator and planetary scientist, to help the institute develop projects to advance the nation’s space program in the post-shuttle era.

Last month the center announced funding of nine new research projects, for a total of $400,000, in areas as diverse as physics, chemistry, nanoscience and electrical engineering. And another round of funding is expected late this year.

“We know that research is the key to keeping UCF and Florida in the forefront of space exploration, and that FSI’s new location near UCF will enhance that” Stern said.

The move will enable more joint research projects with units on campus as well as enable students to more easily take advantage of resources at the institute, he said.

The Institute is part of a broad partnership that includes the Florida Institute of Technology, Brevard Community College, Space Florida, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Florida A&M, University of Miami, Florida Atlantic University, University of South Florida, and University of Florida. It also works with NASA’s Florida Space Grant Consortium to provide students from additional state universities access to FSI resources.

FSI’s new address is Florida Space Institute, Partnership I Building, 12354 Research Parkway, Orlando, FL 32826.