Houston, September 4, 2013 – The Houston Airport System unveiled part of its vision for the future of Ellington Airport (EFD) today, as conceptual renderings of a possible Spaceport were released to the public. The design/drawings capture various elements of the overall project, including a terminal facility, an aviation museum and the accompanying aerospace industries that would most certainly arrive should Houston become the nation's ninth licensed Spaceport. The unveiling occurred as the City of Houston prepared to host the annual meeting of the Commercial Space Federation, an association of more than 40 business leaders and entrepeneurs with direct ties to the expanding commercial space industry.
"This is a new and exciting sector of the 21st Century economy that carries amazing potential for growth," said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. "We believe a licensed Spaceport in Houston would not only serve as an economic generator for the city but it would also enhance Houston's well-deserved reputation as a leader and key player in the aerospace industry."
Houston City Council members agreed with that assessment on July 17, 2013, when they voiced their overwhelming support for the pursuit of Spaceport licensing at Ellington Airport. Should the required licensing be secured, the Houston Airport System (HAS) would move forward in establishing the required infrastructure and support facilities needed to accommodate enterprises such as, component and composite fabrication, space vehicle assembly, launching of micro-satellites, Astronaut training, zero gravity experimentation and space tourism.
"It's important to realize that this type of work is already taking place today," said Houston Aviation Director Mario C. Diaz. "This is not a conversation based on science fiction or futuristic projections. This is a conversation about how Houston can access and enhance an industry that is already well-established and growing exponentially."
Many of the key players within this industry are currently gathering in Houston, as members of the Commercial Space Federation (CSF) conduct their annual meeting in the Clear Lake Area, near the Johnson Space Center. The timely visit is giving CSF members an up close view of many of the selling points Houston has to offer as a potential Spaceport location, such as a booming economy with a strong aerospace industrial base, a well educated workforce with experience in the high-tech demands of space exploration and plenty of room for growth at a strategically located airport facility. Situated near the Gulf of Mexico, and featuring ample available space for development, Ellington Airport seems tailor-made for the requirements that are associated with an operating licensed Spaceport.
"It is gratifying to see Houston emerge as the latest applicant to join the growing network of spaceports across the country," said Michael Lopez-Alegria, President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. "The area has many attributes that appeal to commercial space entities, including geographical location that allows easy access to offshore airspace, a strong and diverse economy that provides an educated and skilled workforce, and of course a long tradition of close association with human spaceflight."
The launches being proposed for Ellington Airport would involve Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLV's) executing horizontal, rather than vertical, take-offs, departing in a fashion similar to commercial aircraft. Since receiving City Council approval to move forward with the Spaceport initiative, the Houston Airport System has been working through the countless details associated with such a sizeable project. The unveiling of the renderings and the overall marketing look associated with the Spaceport effort, is intended to update residents across Texas on the HAS effort to establish Houston as a key player within the commercial spaceflight industry.