Could Houston be getting international spaceport soon?

March 6, 2013 4:10:35 PM PST
The space shuttle program may be long gone, but airport officials hope Houston could soon be home to an international spaceport.

You may soon be able to get on an aircraft in Houston and be just about anywhere in the world in just a matter of hours. That's what Houston Airport Systems director Mario Diaz believes, and the key to this future, he says, is a spaceport at Ellington Field.

In just a matter of months, Ellington Field might be a spaceport.

"Licensing will probably take between 15 to 18 months," Diaz said. "The community will need to be informed. We'll be going through an environmental impact statement and study."

That announcement came Wednesday in the State of the Airports event in the Galleria area. Diaz says they've already applied for the license.

If they get that license, there would be no vertical liftoffs from Ellington Field. Instead, spacecrafts would take off and head over the Gulf of Mexico. From there, the craft would lift to the edge of space, about 80,000 to 100,000 feet above Earth.

Traveling about Mach 3 or 4, the edge of space travel would make long trips significantly shorter.

"Skimming along the top of the world, connecting Houston with places as far and remote as Singapore in under three hours," Diaz said.

The price tag, right now, would be hefty.

Tickets on the Virgin Galactic are $200,000 a piece -- and that's for space tourism, not destination travel.

Passengers flying in an out of Hobby Airport have some thoughts on the idea of a spaceport in Houston.

"I think it's wonderful who people who would have to get there. It wouldn't be for me," passenger Kay Kinnard said.

"I think it would be kinda cool to do a little travel up near space and be able to take a trip halfway across the world," Adam Hayford said.

According to Diaz, it is the beginning of the future.

"I say that the 21st Century will be about the evolution of space," Diaz said.

There is a licensed spaceport under construction in New Mexico. Licenses have also been issued by the FAA to two sites in Florida, one in California and another in Virginia. The airport authority in Midland is also working to get a commercial space license.

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