The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a new grant program designed to fund projects that develop and expand commercial space transportation infrastructure.Â The Space Transportation Infrastructure Matching Grants will be awarded to four separate projects located in Alaska, California, Florida, and New Mexico.
Rocketplane Global Vice President Chuck Lauer said today that the company expects to begin flying space tourists on suborbital rides out of Cecil Field in Jacksonville by 2013. Rocketplane has signed a letter of intent with the Jacksonville Aviation Authority to become the first commercial space operator to use the former Naval air base turned spaceport, Lauer told attendees at Space Access ’10 in Phoenix.
LauerÂ said that that Rocketplane would fund development of its six-person space plane as part of a $300 million project that would also create a Spaceport Visitor’s Center at the Jacksonville site. The center would include full motion 3D/HD suborbital flight simulators that would allow visitors to experience a 4-minute version of the 45-minute spaceflight that well-heeled passengers will fly aboard Rocketplane’s suborbital vehicle.
Crist visits Jacksonville to tout spaceport Financial News & Daily Record Gov. Charlie Crist visited Jacksonville Wednesday to talk to leaders of the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) about the future of a spaceport at Cecil Field after the facility was recently licensed for horizontal launches of spacecraft.
FAA approves Cecil for commercial spaceport Jacksonville Journal
The Federal Aviation Administration has approved Cecil Field to be used as a commercial spaceport, and the field’s license is pending, Jacksonville International Airport spokesman Michael Stewart said Wednesday.
He showed photos for two vehicles that could take off from the runway and rocket to the edge of earth’s atmosphere – high enough for passengers to see the curvature of the Earth and experience weightlessness. One design was based on a private jet; the other, still in development, would glide back to Earth, he said.
Editor’s Note: Jacksonville officials have been courting Rocketplane Global, although that company’s vehicle remains largely in the computer with more than $100 million required to get to a test flight. Rocketplane laid off most of its staff earlier this year and moved out of its headquarters in Oklahoma due to financial difficulties.
I’m not sure of the identity of the other company mentioned in the story. Anyone know?
JAA Looking Toward Space Financial News and Daily Record
By the end of the year, the Aviation Authority expects to get word from the Federal Aviation Administration that itâ€™s time to look beyond the boundaries of gravity. The FAA is currently in the final stages of reviewing the JAAâ€™s application for Cecil Field to become a Certified Space Port.
â€œWe are not there, but we are close,â€ said Michael Stewart, director of external affairs for JAA.
JAA said Thursday’s meeting was another step in the process of bringing commercial space flights to Cecil Field. Officials were able to get input from the public, much of which was opposed plans to bring the Navy back to Cecil Field a few years ago.
However, residents who live nearby showed up at the meeting with a different perspective on Cecil Field becoming a spaceport.
FAA Assesses Proposed Cecil Field Spaceport News4Jax.com
The Jacksonville Aviation Authority’s dream of landing a commercial spaceport to accommodate reusable launch vehicles at Cecil Field moved one step closer to reality this week with the release of a Federal Aviation Administration released of a report finding no significant environmental impacts.
The Jacksonville Airport Authority is moving ahead with plans to designate Cecil Field as a spaceport to host suborbital flights. JAA expects to received approval for the move from the Federal Aviation Administration by February 2009, the Jacksonville Business Journal reports.
“Although the final application was turned in Aug. 15, interim drafts have already been approved. Once the operators receive FAA approval to fly out of Cecil, the first launch could be as early as spring 2010,” the journal reports.
Cecil Field is a civilian-military airport that sits on the location of a Naval Air Station that was closed in 1999. The airfield features:
Four runways: one at 12,500 feet and three at 8,000 feet
537,000 square yards of apron
175 major buildings totaling 2.9 million square feet.
Over 425,000 square feet of warehouse, industrial and general-use space
225,000 square feet of general office and support facilities
The airport hosts the Florida Army National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard’s Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON). Boeing, Northrop Grumman and otherÂ major aerospace companies are located at the facility, where they provide maintenance and overhaul services forÂ U.S. military aircraft.