FAA Issues Spaceport Grants

Agency allows construction at eight U.S. launch sites.

Spaceport Big
Spaceport Big

After the retirement of the space shuttle program this summer, the government's support of emerging commercial space travel continues. The FAA has issued grants to three licensed Spaceports to aid in the efforts of expanding the infrastructure of commercial space transportation. "These grants will go a long way toward meeting President Obama's National Space Policy and its greater emphasis on using the commercial space industry to meet our current and future space transportation needs," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Spaceport America, a facility outside of Las Cruces, New Mexico, with a two-mile-long runway, received $249,378 to build what it calls a "roll-back vehicle integration building" – a mobile pre-launch support structure for larger vehicles. Spaceport America is currently under construction and would be the first purpose-built commercial Spaceport in the world, its developers claim.

The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) in Wallops Island, Virginia, received $125,000 to improve security and remote monitoring. MARS currently operates two medium/heavy lift launch pads for low earth orbit access. Another $125,000 was awarded to the Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California — the first Spaceport to receive an FAA license in 2004, the same year Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne won the $10 million Ansari X Price — for supplemental environmental assessment.

So far, the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation has licensed eight official spaceports and issued licenses for more than 200 launches.