Spaceport news

Yesterday was a big news for up-and-coming commercial spaceports that want to serve the space tourism market:

Oklahoma’s spaceport at the former Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base has received its operators license from the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. (The announcement was rather low-key: while the FAA issued a press release about the license, that press release isn’t available on FAA’s web site; see RLV and Space Transport News for the full text of the release, which apparently got a scattershot email distribution. [Update: the official press release is now available as a Word document on the FAA/AST web site.]) It’s certainly a big step forward for the spaceport, although one that had been anticipated for some time: over a month ago at ISDC, George French of Rocketplane Kistler said that the license would be official “in the next two weeks”. In his MSNBC article, Alan Boyle notes that the license “gives Oklahoma an edge in the nascent space tourism industry”, although that edge may be illusory: other planned spaceports, most notably New Mexico, will likely have their FAA licenses well in advance of any commercial operations planned from them, so it will come down to the ability of the companies that plan to operate from them to carry out their business plans.

Speaking of New Mexico, the state has selected a company to begin work designing the Southwest Regional Spaceport. California-based DMJM/AECOM beat out two other finalists to win the contract to provide architectural and engineering services for the spaceport. That work will include “hangers [sic], control building, support buildings, roads, utilities, launch pads and fuel storage facilities,” according to the state press release. An AP article notes that a final contract between the state and DMJM/AECOM is still being negotiated, and will cover an initial “programming” phase. reviews Spaceport Singapore, the spaceport announced by Space Adventures earlier this year. While the spaceport will host suborbital spaceflight, it will also provide a number of other attractions, including a space camp and various simulators. One sticking point, something that Space Adventures’ Eric Anderson has mentioned in speeches in the recent past: the full $115 million needed for the spaceport hasn’t been raised yet, although proponents believe they’ll have the money in hand by the end of the year.

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