Houston City Councilmembers offered their overwhelming support today for an effort undertaken by the Houston Airport System (HAS) to establish Ellington Airport (EFD) as a licensed commercial Spaceport.
Councilmembers approved a measure on Wednesday, July 17, that directs the HAS leadership team to continue moving forward in the application process necessary to accommodate commercial spaceflights at Ellington Airport.
“Houston was the first word ever spoken from the surface of the moon, so our city already enjoys a unique place in aerospace history,” said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. “But we need to take the steps necessary to ensure that Houston remains at the forefront of this exciting industry throughout the 21st Century and this initiative at Ellington Airport goes a long way in accomplishing that goal.”
Mayor Parker and Houston Aviation Director Mario Diaz share the view that the amount of aerospace activity taking place in the United States will likely increase exponentially in the coming decades and will offer significant economic benefits for the cities that are prepared with the necessary infrastructure and licensing. To date, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA/AST) has licensed only eight commercial spaceports in the U.S.
“Houston is in a perfect position to establish itself as a focal point city within the commercial aerospace industry,” Diaz says. “The infrastructure at Ellington Airport is ideal for this type of activity. The surrounding area is already populated with highly-educated, trained professionals and EFD is well-positioned geographically to accommodate the types of launches under consideration.”
Those launches would involve Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLV’s) executing horizontal, rather than vertical, take-offs. Departing spacecraft would take-off in a fashion similar to commercial aircraft and once over the Gulf of Mexico, would change their settings to a vertical trajectory.
The spaceport at Ellington would facilitate engineering activities such as component and composite fabrication, as well as space vehicle assembly. Commercial activities could also include the launching of micro-satellites, Astronaut training, zero gravity experimentation and space tourism.
The Houston Airport System asked for support from City Councilmembers shortly before hosting a major gathering of key leaders within the aerospace industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) will hold its annual meeting in Houston in September. The CSF is an industry association of more than 40 leading businesses and organizations working to make commercial human spaceflight a reality.