ANA & Marubeni to Establish Spaceport in Japan

A planned suborbital space plane. Credit: (PD AeroSpace Ltd./Koike Terumasa Design and Aerospace)

Nikkei Asian Review reports on efforts to establish a new spaceport in Japan.

All Nippon Airways operator ANA Holdings and trading house Marubeni will set up a spaceport in Japan as early as 2021, Nikkei has learned.

The launch site, equivalent to a seaport for ships or an airport for aircraft, will be for private space travel, and feature 3-km runways for craft that take off horizontally like airplanes….

The two companies, together with four other partners — including Airbus Japan, satellite broadcaster Sky Perfect JSAT and real estate company Mitsui Fudosan — have established a company named Spaceport Japan to advance the project. The Tokyo-based team will begin work on Friday.

ANA is working with PD Aerospace on developing a suborbital space plane.

Group Forms to Oppose UK Spaceport

Artist’s impression of a UK spaceport. (Credit: Perfect Circle PV)

The BBC reports a group named Protect The Mhoine (PTM) has formed to oppose plans to construct a spaceport on the Moine peninsula in Sutherland.

Its members’ concerns include the boundary of the spaceport’s exclusion zone being only a few hundred metres from their property, and also the handling of consultation on the project.Under the proposals, satellites launched from Sutherland would fly from north to south….

Chairman John William told BBC Scotland: “We think that drawbacks of building a spaceport on the Moine are far more serious and longer lasting than any possible benefits.

“The benefits are claimed to be 40 jobs in the area and perhaps 400 jobs worldwide. Those are tentative numbers.

“What is certain is if you destroy a peatlands area by putting roads across it, concrete in it and rockets on it the damage will last for hundreds or thousands of years.”

Houston Approves $18.8 Million for Ellington Spaceport Program

Artist’s impression of future Ellington spaceport. (Credit: Houston Airport System)

The Houston City Council has approved $18.8 million for the first phase of an ambitious effort to develop a spaceport at Ellington Airport.

The funding will pay for the construction of basic spaceport infrastructure, including streets, water, wastewater, electrical power distribution facilities, and communications facilities, according to the City Council agenda.

The council awarded the contract for the improvements, which are designed to help attract potential users of the spaceport, to Texas Sterling-Banicki, JV LLC.

Houston Spaceport is being designed to support the launch of suborbital, reusable vehicles. Officials have also opened the Houston Aerospace Support Center (HASC), which offers 53,000 square feet of laboratory office and technology incubator space and hardware production facilities.

Group Sues FAA for Withholding Georgia Spaceport Safety Assessments

Spaceport Camden launch complex (Credit: Camden County)

ATLANTA (SELC PR) — The Southern Environmental Law Center is challenging the Federal Aviation Administration for refusing to disclose important information about the risks of harm to human life and property around a proposed spaceport in Camden County.

(more…)

Portugal Eyes Spaceport in the Azores

Azores from space. (Credit: Portugal Government)

The government of Portugal and the regional government of the Azores have issued an international call of interest for proposals to use a proposed spaceport on the island of Santa Maria.

“In several recent independent studies, all the authors concluded that the Island of Santa Maria offers a privileged geographic location in the middle of the Atlantic, permitting an unobstructed launch trajectory, over the sea, for polar or SSO [sun synchronous] orbits, as well as a unique position between Europe, the Americas and Africa, representing a major advantage compared to other space ports in the world,” according to the program’s official website.

The Atlantic International Satellite Launch Programme hopes to begin begin launches of small satellites in 2021. Officials announced the program on Tuesday at the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany.

“The feasibility of establishing a spaceport in the Azores was first assessed in the fall of 2017 by the Center for Space Research of the University of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) under the UT Austin-Portugal partnership, supported by the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation, FCT, and released by the end of 2017,” according to the website.

“Since then, several key space providers have initiated studies about potential launch sites in the Azores and, in addition, ESA is currently supporting preliminary micro-launcher related studies through its FLPP – Future Launchers Preparatory Program and GSTP – General Studies and Technology Programme,” the website states.

The deadline for interested parties to provide a formal expression of interest is Oct. 31.

Midland City Council Votes to Renew Spaceport License

The Midland City Council voted 6-1 last week to spend $10,000 on the renewal of a spaceport license for the Midland International Airport.

Council members seemed to appreciate Councilman Spencer Robnett’s concern about economic development efforts that didn’t pan out, including the failed deals with XCOR Aerospace and Orbital Outfitters, which have either filed for bankruptcy or gone out of business since. Councilman Jeff Sparks even said during the meeting he felt the council was “duped” and that XCOR, in particular, was not what the council was led to believe.

Director of Airports Justine Ruff told the Reporter-Telegram on Monday that a total of $2 million in city dollars has been spent on the spaceport through Airport Operations Fund, which she said is funded through parking lot fees and money brought in through minerals on airport land.

Sparks and Councilman J.Ross Lacy also mentioned the “$10 million” in tangible assets that exist at Midland International because of Midland Development Corp. and Governor’s Office investments in aerospace in Midland.

 

Midland City Councilman Wants to Shutdown Spaceport

Following the bankruptcies of XCOR and Orbital outfitters, Midland City Councilman Spencer Robnett says it’s time to end the city’s efforts to establish a viable spaceport.

In an opinion piece published by the Midland Reporter Telegram, Robnett wrote:

At this Tuesday’s City Council meeting, we will consider a resolution extending a contract with SilverWing Enterprises for contractual services to renew our spaceport license for 5 years. I will vote against extending the spaceport license and any future spaceport agenda items and would encourage my fellow councilmen and councilwoman to do the same.

What was initially touted as a chance to diversify Midland’s economy and bring space tourism, space research and space travel to West Texas has cost the taxpayers of Midland over $20 million to date with nothing to show for it. Since this community began pursuit of a spaceport designation, Midland’s population has grown at unprecedented rates and Permian Basin oil production has tripled. Based on some reports, Basin production could again double by 2023 with $300 billion in upstream investment forecast during that time period. We need to spend our tax dollars supporting infrastructure that helps drive what makes Midland unique and prosperous, not chase speculative diversification efforts at the taxpayers’ expense.

Colorado Air and Space Port Receives Spaceport License

BRIGHTON, Colo. (Adams County PR) — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted a site operator license to Colorado Air and Space Port after a 180-day review period, the 11th such license granted in the United States. Colorado Air and Space Port will serve as America’s hub for commercial space transportation, research, and development.

“Facilities like Colorado Air and Space Port will be developed around the country and the world,” said Mary Hodge, chair of the Adams County Board of Commissioners. “We’ll be building a hub that connects Colorado to commercial and research opportunities across the globe.”

(more…)

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.

UK Selects First Launch Site in Sutherland

  • Industrial Strategy funding awarded to proposed vertical launch spaceport in Sutherland, Scotland
  • Horizontal launch sites such as those planned in Cornwall, Glasgow Prestwick and Snowdonia to be boosted by new £2 million development fund
  • Commercial vertical and horizontal launch demand is worth a potential £3.8 billion to the UK economy over the next decade and will support further growth of Britain’s space sector
  • Additional grants to be announced at next week’s Farnborough International Airshow will see leading commercial spaceflight operators launching from Sutherland

SWINDON, UK (UKSA PR) — The UK Space Agency has selected the first vertical launch site in Sutherland on the north coast of Scotland and is making available a new £2 million fund to boost horizontal spaceport development across Britain, Business Secretary Greg Clark will announce today (Monday 16 July).

(more…)

Cornwall Expects Big — Maybe Too Big — Things From Newquay Spaceport

There’s some news from Cornwall on the spaceport front:

Cornwall Council has admitted that it is ‘anticipating a positive announcement’ on the bid to have the UK’s first spaceport in Newquay bringing thousands of new jobs and an £1bn a year into the local economy.

Newquay is among eight UK sites vying to become the first spaceport in Europe as the Government aims to meet the growing interest in space tourism.

The Government is expected to announce the location of the spaceport at the Farnborough Air Show which starts on July 16.

If successful, horizontal rocket launches could take place from Newquay , which has one of the longest runways in the country, to see small size satellites put into orbit. The space sector could be worth more than £1 billion by 2030, which is more than 10 per cent of the current economy.

Editor’s Note:  It looks like somebody’s got spaceport fever. Also known as Richardson Syndrome, it is a very serious condition that leads people to do and say all sorts of crazy (and often expensive) things. The only cure for that is reviewing the history of commercial spaceports. Preferable with a couple of pints on hand, which you’ll need once you realize what you’ve gotten yourself into.

I’ve lived for six years near Mojave spaceport, which hasn’t seen a spaceflight in almost 14 years.  Small rocket launches aside, Spaceport America has stayed largely idle since they dedicated the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space way back in 2011. (You don’t need to spend $225 million to launch sounding rockets.) Midland’s spaceport dreams expired when XCOR and Orbital outfitters did. Burns Flat in Oklahoma never saw a launch. Florida’s Cecil Airport is still waiting for its first spaceflight.

Maybe things will be different in Cornwall. Maybe they’ll catch a wave. Maybe the timing is finally right. I don’t know. You never say never in this business.

It’s great that they’re willing to pursue this, but they need to manage expectations. And not go giving things away on sketchy promises. One thing that helps is Newquay won’t be dependent on its space business. It’s not like they’re building a spaceport in suburban nowhere and waiting on something that is always 12 to 18 months away.

Review of Spaceport Earth: The Reinvention of Spaceflight

Spaceport Earth: The Reinvention of Spaceflight
by Joe Pappalardo
The Overlook Press
240 pages
2018

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Most travel books promote exciting locales such as Paris, Machu Pichu or Bali that people actually want to visit to relax and escape the pressures of life in the 21st century.

Joe Pappalardo had a different idea for his travelogue. The contributing editor for Popular Mechanics decided to visit various spaceports and rocket test sites to gauge how commercial space is transforming the industry.

Pappalardo’s travels take him from the sandy beaches of Florida and Virginia to the desolate deserts of the American Southwest and steaming jungles of French Guiana. Along the way, we meet everyone from Elon Musk to the crew at Masten Space Systems and the local gentry in the various towns adjoining these facilities.

(more…)

New Laws Unlock Exciting Space Era for UK

LONDON (UKSA PR) — New laws are set to get Royal Assent today (15 March 2018) which will unlock an exciting era of British space innovation, exploration and investment.

The Space Industry Bill will enable the first commercial space launch from UK soil in history, creating the potential for hundreds of highly-skilled jobs and bringing in billions of pounds for the economy.

The passing of the Bill, the most modern piece of space industry legislation anywhere in the world, means British businesses will soon be able to compete in the commercial space race using UK spaceports.

(more…)

Group Launches Campaign to Protect Cumberland Island from Proposed Spaceport

WOODBINE, Ga. (Protect Cumberland Island PR) — The Cumberland Island National Seashore is a national treasure that is enjoyed by over 60,000 visitors per year. The Board of Commissioners of Camden County, Georgia is attempting to obtain a license for a commercial spaceport that will require rockets to be launched directly over the National Seashore. This ill-advised plan puts the Cumberland Island National Seashore and coastal marshlands in peril from exploding rockets, environmental contamination and other significant risks. The proposed spaceport would be the first and only spaceport in the United States where rockets are launched over a national park with active visitation and private homes.

(more…)

UK Space Launch Program Receives £50 Million Boost in Government’s Industrial Strategy

LONDON (UKSA PR) — A £50 million [$66.7 million] programme to enable new satellite launch services and low gravity spaceflights from UK spaceports will boost the economy and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Business Secretary Greg Clark announced the plans today (Monday 27 November) as he launched the Government’s ambitious Industrial Strategy. This sets out a long-term vision for how Britain can build on its economic strengths, address its productivity performance, embrace technological change and support businesses and workers.

(more…)