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Courtesy of the Jacksonville Business Journal) – SpaceX this year made history by launching humans to the International Space Station, but it also sent worms, hemp and mice to the orbiting laboratory.

The Hawthorne, California-based rocket company founded by Elon Musk flies supply missions from Cape Canaveral to the ISS. It’s also one of the firms selected by NASA to fly astronauts to and from the space station, with crewed flights starting earlier this year. Manning and resupplying the ISS is valuable for American industry. The space station is a research and development hub for aerospace, medical and technology companies across the country, including several in Central Florida.

To see some of the most intriguing things sent to the ISS, check out the slideshow here.

Plus, the launch of people and supplies to the ISS creates Space Coast jobs. Companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Cape Canaveral-based Craig Technologies LLC all are hiring for local positions supported by the Commercial Crew program or projects that take place aboard the ISS.

Meanwhile, the growing space industry is expected to be worth $1 trillion by 2040, meaning more work and jobs for Florida’s Space Coast. This work is important because it generates high-wage jobs. In fact, the average compensation per worker employed by Cape Canaveral space activity in 2019 was $88,200, according to a NASA study. That’s higher than the Orlando area’s average annual salary of $46,140 or the Palm Bay area’s average annual salary of $51,180, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Photo courtesy of NASA.