Spaceport License Granted for JAA’s Cecil Field
Cecil Field is first FAA-licensed horizontal launch Commercial spaceport on the East Coast
JACKSONVILLE, January 12, 2010 - The Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) today announced that it has been granted a license by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate a commercial, horizontal launch spaceport at Cecil Field. Cecil Field is the first FAA-licensed horizontal launch commercial spaceport in Florida. It is the 8th horizontal launch commercial spaceport to be licensed in the U.S.
As part of receiving a license to operate a spaceport, the JAA and FAA conducted an extensive environmental study and a comprehensive application process which included a number of public meetings.
During a horizontal launch, a spacecraft takes off and lands horizontally just like an airplane. Cecil Field is an ideal site for horizontal launch space flight. It has a 12,500-foot long main runway (the third longest in Florida), and the location is relatively close to the open skies over the Atlantic Ocean.
"Cecil Field has come a long way in the past ten years. This property which was once a Naval Air Station continues to be reused and redeveloped in innovative ways," said JAA Board Chairman Deborah Pass-Durham. "We're hopeful this commercial spaceport license will help take Cecil Field to the next level in attracting new business, especially within the space industry."
"With Cecil Commerce Center being named one of only eight licensed commercial spaceports in the country and the only one on the Eastern Seaboard, Jacksonville is breaking into yet another aviation industry with commercial space transport," said JAA Executive Director and CEO Steve Grossman. "Cecil Commerce Center offers Jacksonville and our region an industrial complex unlike any other in the state, and the addition of commercial space transport will greatly contribute to economic development and job growth in Jacksonville."
Commercial spaceports can be used for suborbital space tourism, travel and cargo operations and other commercial launch activities. The best known player in the commercial space industry is Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson's company. Virgin Galactic is based at New Mexico's Spaceport America. Another player in the industry is Oklahoma City-based Rocketplane Global Inc. (www.rocketplane.com). Rocketplane CEO, George French, has visited Cecil Field.
The Jacksonville Aviation Authority was established in 2001 by the Florida legislature to operate Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) and the city's three general aviation airports - Craig Airport (CRG), Herlong Airport (HEG) and Cecil Field (VQQ). The Authority is governed by a seven-member board, and funded through user fees - not the City of Jacksonville's general fund. Jacksonville International Airport serves over six million passengers annually.