Colorado spaceport granted site operator licence

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted a site operator licence to Colorado Air and Space Port, the 11th such licence granted in the United States.

Colorado Air and Space Port will serve as a hub for commercial space transportation, research and development and will be located at the former Front Range Airport, six miles from Denver International Airport.

Jim Siedlecki, communications director for Adams County Government told Regional Gateway that the site of the former Front Range Airport in Adams County with existing infrastructure already in place (a terminal, hangars and two 8,000 foot runways) was selected for a spaceport nearly seven years ago, “This location provides access to a spaceport for the dozens of Colorado companies already working directly in the aerospace industry. Our universities also have a focus on aerospace engineering (CU-Boulder), space mining (Colorado School of Mines) and the state is home to the nation’s Air Force Academy.

“There is a tremendous foundation for aerospace in Colorado and this location is close to one of the fastest growing cities in America, not isolated in the middle of a desert.”

The spaceport will accommodate vehicles making horizontal takeoffs and landings, and is expected to provide a boost to the state’s economy by keeping the nearly 200,000 jobs within or connected to the aerospace industry in Colorado as well as creating new employment opportunities.

“This license supports the rapid pace of innovation of Colorado-based companies while inviting new investment to grow these 21st century jobs throughout the state,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “Colorado welcomes the chance to write the next chapter in our country’s space history.”

Gaining the operators licence is the first step of the process, a space company will have to apply to be licensed as an operator at the spaceport and the vehicle that company employs for suborbital flight will also have to be approved and licenced, the Space Port director Dave Ruppel, said: “The license from the FAA is an important step in the process, and we’re looking forward to partnering with a company that shares our vision for the spaceport and the technological and commercial benefits it brings to Colorado.”

“Leaders across our state made the case that Colorado—with its robust aerospace and tech industries, strategic location, and highly skilled workforce—was uniquely positioned for a spaceport,” said Senator Michael Bennet. “We welcome today’s news and know that Spaceport Colorado will play a key role in the future of commercial space transportation around the country. I’ll continue supporting our state’s aerospace economy—the second-largest in the nation—as it boosts innovation and creates high-paying jobs for Coloradans.”

Siedlecki explained that airport operations will continue at this location, “As we begin to discuss the opportunities of future expansion with aerospace companies and researchers.”

Reaction Engines is already on site but there are more than 1,000 acres of open land ready for development inside the fence, he added.

Discussing the impact on the local economy, he said: “There are already more than 50,000 people in Colorado working in the aerospace industry. These are high-tech and high-paying jobs and our hope is a licensed facility will help attract even more innovative companies to Colorado Air and Space Port.”

On getting the licence from the FAA, the facility officially became known as Colorado Air and Space Port, retiring the Spaceport Colorado and Front Range Airport names.


Written by: Kimberley Young

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