Spaceport for Colorado?
Colorado’s Front Range Airport, located in Aurora, Colorado is looking to become the state’s first designated Spaceport. Colorado is looking to join the current spaceport designated states of Alaska,
California, Florida, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia.
The Front Range Airport encompasses 4,000 acres and is surrounded by another 6,000 acres of industrial zoned property that is privately held. There are those in the state who are championing this proposal to keep Colorado’s Commercial Space Industry active.
Colorado’s aerospace industry includes Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and the United Launch Alliance among some 140 related companies in the state. Current estimates are that the aerospace industry supports more than 163,000 jobs in the state.
With the end of NASA’s Space Shuttle program in 2011, it now falls to private enterprise and those visionary entrepreneurs to take up the slack. Companies like, Texas based, Armadillo Aerospace, XCOR Aerospace’s Lynx and the Richard Branson backed Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, are several of the companies in the private space plane business.
In December of 2011, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D) filed a letter of intent with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation, to have Colorado designated as a spaceport state. This was followed by a letter of unanimous support to the FAA, from the full congressional delegation of Colorado in February of 2012. The Governor hopes to inspire companies to envision suborbital flights in addition to the development of new companies and business to develop and grow commercial space transportation.
Spaceport America, located in southern New Mexico, is the first dedicated spaceport in the United States. It is a joint venture between private enterprise spaceflight business and is being funded by New Mexico taxpayers.
Front Range Airport has unused runway capacity which can be used for atypical aircraft such as space planes and unmanned aerial vehicles. With the prospect of Colorado becoming a designated Spaceport State, the growth of this industry will include even more spaceport development projects.