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Spaceports and commercial space travel May 15, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Space.
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Browsing through some of the AP stories on space I found this, via MSNBC, ‘States rush to build spaceports–again,’ not a bad story, actually. This, despite the fact that it is woefully incomplete.

The story only really talks about three commercial spaceport sites that the FAA is reviewing, but the FAA tells us far more, here

Aside from proposals being floated in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma, the United States is seeing seven other potential spaceport sites being floated around state legislatures and the FAA.

The Wisconsin Senate is reviewing legislation that would develop a spaceport authority.

South Dakota has identified a site near Ellsworth AFB that could be a potential spaceport, although, according to the FAA, no infrastructure exists for this proposal.

The state of Montana was one of the early states to look at spaceport development in coordination with the Venture Star program, long cancelled. Currently they are not pursuing development but did go so far as to work with the FAA in applying for a spaceport license for a site in Great Falls. The state has $20 million in bonds available to support this venture.

Washington state is also in the game, a private/public partnership called Spaceport Washington has worked to acheive a spaceport at the Grant County International Airport, a former AFB, 280 km east of Seattle.

Adjacent to Nellis AFB, near Vegas, is the Neveda Test Site. Long used by the Deptartment of Energy for nuclear tests, until the test ban in 1992. In 1997 Kistler Aerospace obtained a permit from the DOE to begin development of private launch operations at the site.

Utah is another of the states that tried to get in on the X-33 Venture Star Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) program, cancelled in 2001. Though the state invested $300,000 for a feasiblity study and appointed a Spaceport Advisory Board, no further action is being taken at this time.

Even with the March 2001 cancellation of the X-33 program, Utah did continue to pursue a spaceport authority

Alabama has a spaceport proposal as well. A ten year timeline is being looked at, based on economic viability, for a full scale RLV, Expendable Launch Vehicle (ELV) type spaceport, with the primary focus being on RLVs.

So there you have it, commercial space travel is just over the horizon line. A new era in RLVs promises to bring space travel to the masses aboard crafts that are not stuck to giant missiles.

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