Several States Again Considering Spaceport Business

To gain a spaceport license, a facility must pass an environmental review and prove that its location won't harm surrounding communities or the public.


"We ultimately plan on building more sexy facilities," said Charles Lauer, vice president of business development at Rocketplane Kistler.

The FAA also is considering two proposed spaceports in Texas, including a private spaceport on 165,000 acres of desolate ranch land about 120 miles (195 kilometers) east of El Paso bought by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. Bezos had said his space tourism firm, Blue Origin, would first build basic structures, then begin flight tests in six to seven years.

To gain a spaceport license, a facility must pass an environmental review and prove that its location won't harm surrounding communities or the public, said Patricia Grace Smith, associate administrator of the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation. Spaceports and launch vehicles are licensed separately.

To avoid another bust, commercial space hubs must find creative ways to supplement tourists' weightless experience by adding attractions such as theme parks, hotels and restaurants, said Derek Webber, director of Spaceport Associates, a Maryland-based consulting firm.

"You've got to do your homework," he said, "because not all states will succeed."

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On the Net:

http://www.virgingalactic.com

http://www.rocketplane.com

http://www.blueorigin.com

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