Think “space” and “Florida” and what immediately comes to mind? Almost certainly it’s Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. However, if in effort elsewhere in the state comes to fruition, the Space Coast won’t have a monopoly on spaceflight in the state. Earlier this week a public hearing was held in Jacksonville on plans to turn Cecil Field, a former Navy air base, into a spaceport for suborbital spaceflights, according to reports by First Coast News. The Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) is pursuing a spaceport license for the airfield to allow for horizontal-launch, horizontal-landing vehicles to operate from the airfield. The report makes reference to “Concept X” and “Concept X” vehicles that would be in the airport’s license application; although the reports don’t go into this in any detail, the Concept X vehicle is a single-stage vehicle that takes off under jet power (illustrated by the new Rocketplane XP design) and the Concept Z vehicle appears to be a two-stage vehicle (illustrated by Andrews Space’s Gryphon Aerospaceplane design.) The video report also shows a “Concept Y” design that looks like XCOR’s Xerus, which takes off under rocket, not jet, power.
The JAA plans to submit its spaceport license application to the FAA by June, according to the report, and hopes to get a positive response by the end of 2008. What isn’t stated is what spaceflight companies, if any, have expressed interest in flying out of Jacksonville (whose residents aren’t necessarily lining up to buy Virgin Galactic tickets).