HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Spaceport is taking the next step in solidifying itself as a major player in American private space flight with a groundbreaking of a 120,000-square-foot complex that includes the city's first "spaceflight incubator."
Collins Aerospace, one of a handful of companies already committed to flying out of the facility at Ellington Field, broke ground on the complex Monday.
Last month, Collins and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the company's addition to the Houston Spaceport, which has already brought another company, Axiom Space, into the fold.
According to Collins Aerospace, its eight-acre campus will include 10,000 square feet dedicated to an incubator supporting spaceflight, where "start-ups and universities to collaborate on solving critical space technology challenges, including robotics, medicine and additive manufacturing."
For the city overall, the involvement of Collins, Axiom and others at the Houston Spaceport is considered a game-changer, according to the mayor.
"We are leveraging Houston's many advantages, including our dynamic workforce, to fuel the future of aerospace - a potentially trillion-dollar, 21st-century commercial space economy," Turner said last month.
The city has already committed investments into its spaceflight pursuits. Collins Aerospace is getting $25.6 million in financing from Houston Airports for its capital improvements for the company's existing facility in Houston.
The Houston Airport System also spent $21 million on infrastructure at the spaceport site, which was credited with enabling commitments from Collins and Axiom.
Above all, jobs are being added to the city. Arturo Machuca, general manager of Houston Spaceport, told ABC13 content partner Community Impact Newspaper that both companies are expected to bring 1,400 to 1,500 jobs within the first phase of the spaceport.
To handle the growing aerospace demand, area colleges are developing new programs. Some of them can be found at San Jacinto College, where there are aerospace certifications.
For less than $3,000, you can get your foot in the door in the aerospace industry. The school is also partnering with NASA to get younger students involved.
This summer, the school is offering free virtual summer camps. If you're interested in the camps or certification programs, call 281-459-5470 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Houston Spaceport is one of 12 total U.S. sites for commercial and private space launches, and the only one contained within a major city. The others are the Pacific Spaceport Complex, Alaska; Vandenberg Spaceport, California; Mojave Air and Spaceport, California; Spaceport America, New Mexico; Midland Spaceport, Texas; Colorado Air and Spaceport, Colorado; Oklahoma Spaceport, Oklahoma; Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport, Virginia; Cecil Field Space, Florida; Space Coast Regional Airport, Florida; and, Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Florida.