Front Range Airport Receives Spaceport License

Front Range Airport in Colorado has received a spaceport license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Adams County spokesman Jim Siedlecki said the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval came through Friday. A formal announcement on the license is scheduled to take place at 11 a.m. Monday at Adams County government headquarters.

The operator license means that Spaceport Colorado, housed at Front Range Airport in Adams County, becomes the nation’s 11th facility of its kind, opening the door for Colorado to further cement its already robust reputation as an epicenter for space-related missions and business ventures.

“Certainly, having the regulatory stamp of approval from the FAA does enable Spaceport Colorado to accelerate engagement and partnerships with potential users,” said Carolyn Belle, a senior analyst with Northern Sky Research who specializes in the aerospace sector.

But it’s the users, the handful of companies developing the space planes of the future, that are lagging behind the infrastructure being built to accommodate their vehicles. Dave Ruppel, airport director for Front Range Airport, said the first horizontal launch and landing at Spaceport Colorado won’t occur for at least a half decade.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Who besides Virgin Galactic is actually working on a Horizontal Launch And Landing system? I know Dream Chaser is designed to land on a runway, and a handful of firms are looking at air launched systems, but XCOR was the only firm beside Virgin Galactic that was developing one that did both.

    Now that said, Front Range Spaceport would be a good location for World View to operate from.

  • Bulldog

    Anyone know how this works with DEN next door? I assume there is some type of MOU in place or one will be negotiated prior to operations starting. I would think a spacecraft making an unpowered glide return to KFTG (emergency or normal RTL) could be a challenge to work into the flow.

  • One, two horizontal launch companies…who cares? The business model as far as taxpayers is concerned is a loser. Multiple spaceports competing for landing rights for a prospective single user puts a lot at risk. Virgin Galactic is chomping at the bit to command unheard-of incentives. The BIG LOSER will be Spaceport America. Why would anyone who can spend $250,000 for a joy ride want to spend a few days of deprivation in Truth or Consequences when they could fly from Denver, Houston, Kennedy, Taranto-Grottaglie, Al Maktoum, or even Midland! And don’t forget that XCOR promised launches from the tropical paradise of Curacao.

    Only Virgin Galactic is within the “half decade” window expected for the first flight from Front Range. None of this is being financed by the rocket companies politicians are hoping to attract. It’s the “Do ANYTHING to show you’re doing SOMETHING” strategy.

  • ThomasLMatula

    You misunderstand. None of the super rich space tourists will ever set foot in Truth or Consequences. They will fly into Spaceport America in their business jets or a VG charter, board SpaceshipTwo for their hour long joy ride, then after an award lunch getting their “Astronaut pins” or what ever VG will be passing out to show they have been in space they will fly out again. Likely VG will even fly the fancy food and wine in for the lunch for the successful space tourists., Their only interaction with the locals might be buying a souvenir or two while waiting at the spaceport terminal, assuming VG allows any locals to have souvenir stands there.

    Think about it. Doug could probably tell you how many nights Sir Richard Branson has spent in Mojave over the last couple of decades that SpaceshipOne and SpaceshipTwo have been under development.

    This was why the Southwest Regional Spaceport Task Force listed space tourism as the least attractive market for the Southwest Regional Spaceport since it was determined to create the fewest jobs and have the least impact on the local economy. Pity the state ignored those studies and bought into Peter Diamandis and Sir RIchard Branson’s snake oil.

  • Tom,

    Do you see Spaceport America fulfilling ANY of it’s promises to the local taxpayers? Kodiak Spaceport has been the same for Alaska. Even the jobs in Las Cruces have an insignificant impact in the sense of benefiting the local economy and taxpayers. My point was that maybe large metro areas like Houston and Denver can afford the luxury of a spaceport license for an existing facility, but the business model doesn’t seem to have any possible good outcomes for spaceports in the hinterlands.

    Spaceports are ALWAYS sold as benefiting the local economy but “Where’s the beef”?

  • ThomasLMatula

    That is because spaceports don’t spend the time or money to do market research and so they go chasing after the wrong markets. It’s a classic field of dreams approach, if we build it they will come! Who? And with what revenue? The business models that would have made Spaceport America successful were in the feasibility study and SRS Task Force reports, but they ignored it and went after the very worst market, space tourism, instead.

  • ThisismyBOOMstick

    World View who or what?