Alabama State Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, missed a key vote on the state’s budget on Tuesday because he was in Washington talking to Federal Aviation Administration officials about getting a spaceport.
“If we can get out ahead of this, we can lock it up,” he said.
Dial said that in the next few weeks he’ll introduce a bill that would create an Alabama Spaceport Authority, within the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs. A draft of the bill states that the spaceport authority would “identify public lands for space launch” and “encourage the leveraging of venture capital and seed public-private partnerships to promote private enterprise.”
In the budget passed by the Senate Tuesday, ADECA’s $7.1 million budget was cut by $1.4 million. Dial said the Spaceport Authority would fund its work by applying for FAA grants.
If the bill passes, the new spaceport authority would supersede the nine-member Alabama Spaceport Authority the Legislature created last year. That body, created by a resolution Dial sponsored, had little power other than to study the idea of a spaceport.
Asked whether McClellan would be a good site for a spaceport, Dial declined to answer. He said identifying one district as a potential site would cause legislators in other districts to lose interest.
I’m skeptical: the country has way too many spaceports already for the relatively few launches each year. Even as new systems come online, companies will not lack for options or bargaining chips. It would be interesting to see if an Alabama spaceport could compete in that environment.
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