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Two new US spaceports proposed

March 8, 2024

By Chris Forrester

The FAA has authorised upgrades to Paso Robles airport in California as a potential future spaceport. The decision is helped by a $594,055 grant from the FAA under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Joe Biden, which will kickstart a series of renovations aimed at extending the runway’s lifespan and paving the way for the airport to become a modern spaceport.

The spaceport plan is wholly supported by the local city council.

Despite the significant financial boost, Mark Scandalis, the Airport Manager, acknowledges that the journey to becoming a spaceport is long and filled with challenges. The master plan update is just the beginning, requiring meticulous planning, additional funding, and regulatory approvals. However, the potential benefits of this transition, including increased tourism, technological advancements, and job creation, make the endeavour worthwhile.

Paso Robles is situated North of Santa Barbara and just East of San Simeon Castle and generally surrounded by wineries and olive groves.

The second scheme is at the giant Homestead Air Base near Miami. Florida lawmakers are pushing forward legislation that could bring businesses from the space industry to Miami-Dade County. Senate Bill 968 would turn property at the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Miami-Dade into “spaceport territory,” allowing space technology businesses and other space-related companies to conduct research, develop space infrastructure and more on site.

Currently there are six existing spaceports throughout Florida, two of which are the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Kennedy Space Center which are federally owned.

However, it is unlikely that rockets will be launched anytime soon from Homestead. But the plan is to encourage space-related activity, but not rocketry.

“Cape Canaveral has developed over 70 years, purposely built to do what it does in terms of launching. You need a lot of clear areas and infrastructure, so that’s tough to do in areas that are already somewhat developed like around Homestead,” said Robert Long, CEO of Florida’s aerospace development authority.

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