Officials Eye Spaceport at Ellington Field in Houston

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NASA T-38 jets at Ellington Field. (Credit: NASA)

It looks like Houston is looking to get a spaceport of its own:

As Houston’s elected leaders consider whether to allow flights from Hobby Airport to Cancún, local aviation officials are studying the possibility of a much more exotic destination for flights out of Ellington Airport: space.

Technically, it is feasible, Airport System Director Mario Diaz has concluded. A consultant’s study maps out an air route that would have vehicles launch from Ellington out over the Gulf of Mexico, climb to 100 kilometers above the Earth, then return to Ellington.

Now, Diaz has to figure out whether spending an estimated $48 million to $122 million to make Ellington one of the nation’s first spaceports is a pie-in-the-sky scheme too far ahead of its time, or a visionary business proposition that builds on Houston’s historical role as a space capital.

“You’ve got states all over the country saying, ‘How do we get into this?’ ” said James Muncy, a Virginia-based consultant to the commercial space industry. “There’s a lot of interest in attracting new economic development wherever you are, and this is a new, happening, cool, high-profile kind of activity.”

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