Updated: September 25, 2012 at 12:00 am
An effort to establish a spaceport in Colorado got a boost Tuesday with an announcement of a $200,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct a feasibility study on locating such a facility in Denver.
Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall announced the grant. The feasibility study is the first step in a process that could ultimately land a spaceport — a hub for commercial space activity — in Colorado.
“Having a spaceport in Denver will make Colorado a leader in space travel and solidify our reputation as a pioneer in the 21st century innovation economy,” Bennet said in a release. “It will bring jobs to our state and fuel economic development and scientific research. This effort has been an ‘all hands on deck’ approach and I’m proud to partner with leaders throughout the state to work on making this dream a reality.”
The proposed site of the Colorado Spaceport is Front Range Airport, six miles east of Denver International Airport. But its impact would be felt beyond the Denver area, proponents say.
“A spaceport in Colorado will leverage the deep aerospace, aviation and command and control expertise of companies and public resources in Colorado Springs and give our companies access to the emerging commercial space market,” Joe Raso, president and CEO of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC, said in the release.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper announced in December that the state had applied for a spaceport designation with the federal government. In April, at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Hickenlooper signed a law that would limit liability for companies operating flights from the spaceport.
Colorado is among several states racing to grab a piece of the commercial spaceport pie. Nine spaceports are planned around the United States, mostly at existing airports, and another 10 have been proposed, according to a recent report from the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. Phase one of Spaceport America, the world’s first commercial port built specifically for sending tourists and payloads into space, is nearing completion in New Mexico.