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LAUNCH PAD
The rise of commercial spaceports
by Staff Writers
Bethesda MD (SPX) Jul 27, 2016


Thanks to the early hype, spaceport projects have attracted international attention, and countries around the globe have announced plans for building such facilities.

Just last year, the FAA gave Houston the "go-ahead" to build America's 10th commercial spaceport. Yes, the US already had nine spaceports designated for commercial operations. One must ask, "Why do we need 10 spaceports for so little commercial space activities?"

This represents a great deal of investment and ongoing expense for an industry still in its infancy. The reason for all this excitement among several states and entrepreneurs is space tourism, the so-called "killer" space application that has yet to become reality. Yes, the media continues to expend a great deal of energy and newsprint on the topic.

So much so, that any person might think we are launching tourist spaceships every hour on the hour, to several orbiting hotels and resort complexes. In reality, that industry is still taking "baby" steps toward the future objective of populous orbiting resorts and theme parks.

Progress is slow. We are still taking baby steps toward sending passengers on suborbital flights. It is true that multiple companies are in the development and testing phases. But, the presumptive front-runner, Richard Branson is well behind his own schedule. In fact, he had predicted a steady flow of launches that carry wealthy tourists to the edge of space by 2009.

That schedule has been stretched more than six years already. The 2014 crash of SpaceshipTwo has increased the delay and caused some customers to ask for refunds on deposits. One additional casualty of this situation is Spaceport America, a $200 million facility investment that is gathering dust, and not much more.

Virgin Galactic was its anchor tenant. It is hardly a surprise that Spaceport America has had to readjust its business model and is looking for new clients. The New Mexico site has become an elaborate events destination, hosting everything from school trips and corporate events to product launches.

Thanks to the early hype, spaceport projects have attracted international attention, and countries around the globe have announced plans for building such facilities. Sweden and the UK are both indicated interest in building spaceports that may dominate the European space tourism business. In addition, Space Ventures has announced interest in building spaceports in Singapore and the UAE.

There appears to be little doubt that space tourism will become a reality. It is simply a matter of time. The market for commercial space transportation and human space travel will likely grow exponentially, and the demand for spaceport services will grow as well. Launchspace has anticipated such new space support activities and has created a new course for spaceport operators and users. It is "Spaceport Operations for Commercial Clients," and it is available for presentation at your facilities and on demand.


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