ASK OCE — April 4, 2006 — Vol. 1, 1 Issue 7

U.S. Spaceports

 

“If you build it, they will come.” A growing number of private companies, government agencies, and industry organizations are taking that sentiment to heart by aggressively acting on plans to construct, enhance, and further the use of spaceports in a number of regions in the U.S.

Here are some of the key developments in the U.S. spaceport business.

The Mojave Airport Civilian Flight Test Center

Located 100 miles north of Los Angeles on the western edge of the Mojave Desert, Mojave is already the home port for several civilian suborbital space programs.

The most high-profile is Scaled Composites, designer, builder, and operator of the White Knight/SpaceShipOne piloted vehicles. The Ansari Prize-winning SpaceShipOne flight launched from Mojave. Another company, XCOR Aerospace, is designing and testing its EZ-Rocket as part of a reusable rocket engine and rocket-powered vehicle program. Other firms, such as Orbital Sciences Corporation and Interorbital Systems, are tenants at Mojave.

The Southwest Regional Spaceport

With the support of the New Mexico Economic Development Department and Governor Bill Richardson, plans continue apace for the proposed $225 million dollar facility. Completion is scheduled for 2009 or 2010. Funding for the project will include local, state and federal sources. A study by New Mexico State University projects a payroll of $300 million and employment of 2300 by the facilitys fifth year of operation (2014).

The Southwest Regional Spaceport already boasts some high-profile future tenants. It will be the world headquarters for Virgin Galactic, the sponsors of the X Prize-winning SpaceShipOne, after they move to the New Mexico spaceport from Mojave Airport in 2007. They also have commitments from the rocket manufacturer Starchaser Industries and launch specialists UP Aerospace.

Oklahoma Spaceport

The Oklahoma Spaceport is located 140 miles west of Oklahoma City on the former site of Clinton-Sherman AFB. This 2700-acre facility boasts one of the longest runways in the U.S. as well as 50,000 square feet of manufacturing capacity. Additionally, they have an emergency rescue station, a control tower, and old barracks that can be converted into living quarters for suborbital space tourists.

This facility already serves as a headquarters for two X Prize contenders, Rocketplane Ltd. and TGV Rockets. Rocketplane plans to commence suborbital flights from Oklahoma starting in 2007 with a price tag of $99,500 per seat.

The Kodiak Launch Complex

Completed in 2000, KLC is owned and operated by the Alaska Aerospace Development Corporation. It is located at Narrow Cape, Kodiak Island, Alaska, on 3,717 acres of state-owned land. The facility offers all-weather, indoor processing facilities for orbital and sub-orbital rocket launches. KLC’s track record of success includes 8 successful rocket launches, the most recent in February 2006.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport

Formerly known as The Virginia Space Flight Center, the MARS facility represents the collaboration of the states of Virginia and Maryland, Old Dominion University, and NASA.

The facility currently provides launch support services and facilities to NASA, DARPA, the Air Force, and commercial users. MARS has two FAA licensed launch pads for LEO access as well as access to three suborbital rail launchers, vehicle/payload storage, processing and launch facilities, and a federal launch range.

In November of 2004, MARS received a $49 million contract from the United States Air Force Space and Missiles Systems Center Detachment 12. The contract was for commercial spaceport facilities and services to launch satellites and spacecraft for the Air Force and other government agencies. The five-year contract was the largest ever awarded to MARS.

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