We aren’t quite to the point where commercial spaceports are completely necessary for human travel or shipping cargo, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t sites squared away for the inevitable future when commercial spaceports will be necessary. There are, in fact, currently 10 chosen locations where commercial spaceports can or will be built, with Houston recently becoming the 10th entrant. Fitting, since Houston has always been a home-base of sorts for NASA and spaceflight. “Houston, we’ve had a problem” (changed to “Houston, we have a problem” in the Apollo 13 movie) is one of the most iconic and recognizable sentences in the history of spaceflight, and it just goes to reinforce that when the United States sends astronauts into space, they’re often chatting with Ground Control in Houston.
In an agreement announced yesterday, Houston and NASA have partnered to make the potential future Houston spaceport the best it possibly can be. As part of the agreement NASA will open up their Johnson Space Center for safety training, use of NASA facilities, technology, and knowledge. This sort of experience is invaluable and could give Houston’s spaceport a huge leg up on the other nine currently licensed spaceport sites, if the spaceport is ever built, of course. The spaceport itself is still somewhat in limbo, as Houston Press explains:
One of the main issues is the question of funding. Even though the city council signed off on plans to turn Ellington into a spaceport two years ago, city officials haven’t actually invested much money in the project, which will cost between $48 million and $122 million to get the place ready to actually handle spacecraft landings. So far airport officials have spent less than $750,000 studying the project — including a couple of feasibility studies — and no real funds have been put into actually building the thing.
Unfortunately, you can’t build a spaceport with safety training, but in the event that the project does get funded and the spaceport is completed, the Houston Airport System should have a fantastic head start towards running a successful spaceport.
What do you think? Does cooperation with NASA mean anything for a possible future spaceport? Tell us in the comments below or on any of your favorite social media sites.Source: Houston Press