February 7, 2014 - Houston Aviation Director Mario C. Diaz outlined the city's vision for a licensed commercial spaceport as part of a week-long trade mission to South Africa. Diaz spoke with more than 20 high level executives representing commercial airlines, airport operators and aircraft manufacturing companies during remarks given at a Johannesburg event held on February 5, 2014.
Diaz is currently traveling with Houston Mayor Annise Parker as she looks to strengthen the economic and cultural ties that exist between South Africa and the City of Houston. Mayor Parker says the commercial spaceport concept holds exciting opportunities for both sides taking part in the discussions.
"Houston will play a lead role in commercial space operations in the 21st century," says Mayor Parker. "We have the necessary facilities, the required educated workforce and the dynamic economy needed to sustain these types of operations. All of this is in addition to the fact that the name Houston is virtually synonymous with space exploration activity."
Should Houston become home to the ninth licensed commercial spaceport operating in the United States, the facility itself would be located at Ellington Airport, a joint-use airport facility owned and operated by the city through the Houston Airport System. If approved by the FAA's Office of Space Transportation, a Houston Spaceport would support horizontal launches designed to accommodate a host of various activities, including zero-gravity experiments, the launching of micro satellites, Astronaut training and eventually space tourism.
Part of the South Africa trip involves delegates from Houston sharing both the plans and the associated opportunities that lie within the construction of a Houston Spaceport.
"Commercial spaceports represent a partnership between the host airport facility and private enterprise," says Houston Aviation Director Mario Diaz. "This collaborative model has already led to the creation of a multi-billion dollar industry in the United States and that's certainly the type of partnership we envision for the Houston project as it continues to move forward."
Those associated with the Houston Spaceport initiative say that the FAA application process is approximately 50 percent complete and the required paperwork should be turned in by the end of the 3rd quarter 2014.