Huntsville Airport Could Become Commercial Spaceport

The Huntsville International Airport (KHSV), in Huntsville, Alabama, has been proposed to serve as a re-entry site for horizontally landed commercial aircraft.

The Huntsville-Madison Airport Authority must gain a Reentry Site Operator License first, issued by the FAA. Sierra Space Corporation is seeking a vehicle operator license to land its Dream Chaser space plane at HSV between 2023 and 2027, according to a news release from the FAA.

The FAA will hold a virtual public hearing on its draft environmental assessment on December 9.

Both entities will go through an extensive review process evaluating the potential environmental impacts of the proposed reentry operations, including associated airspace closures, the FAA said in the release.

The FAA will then either issue a finding of no significant impact or a notice of intent to prepare a more comprehensive environmental impact statement. Following the impact statements, the FAA will make licensing determinations.

In the future, any commercial space operator looking to utilize HSV as a re-entry site will need to obtain its own FAA license, according to the FAA. This process will require a separate environmental review. The Huntsville-Madison Airport Authority will also need to modify its license to accommodate each new operator.

Currently, there are 12 FAA-licensed commercial spaceports in Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia.

Based in Texas, Ashley is the former Marketing Manager at FLYING and focuses deeply on training and education. She graduated from the Baylor Institute for Air Science with a Bachelor's in Aviation Science and holds an MBA specializing in Marketing. She is an also instrument rated private pilot and licensed FAA dispatcher.

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