The promise of a spaceport at Front Range Airport within the next several years may be a little brighter after Florida-based suborbital flight vehicle manufacturer Rocket Crafters signed a letter of intent expressing future interest on the budding site.
“They (spaceports) will compliment America’s highly developed air transportation system by being located on or near major commerce and transportation hubs like Denver,” said Rocket Crafters Chief Technology Officer Ronald Jones said in a statement. “We applaud the leaders from Front Range Airport, Adams County and the state of Colorado in taking this bold step and leading the nation in what some call `the second Golden Age of Flight.’”
The letter, which was signed on Oct. 10, outlines a mutual intent between Front Range Airport and the Titusville, Fla.-based company to promote and develop Spaceport Colorado as the company’s preferred commercial spaceport location in the region.
Once Front Range Airport obtains a Federal Aviation Administration-approved spaceport license authorizing horizontal takeoffs, the letter also sets out nonbinding plans for Rocket Crafters to conduct certain pilot astronaut and mission specialist training activities at the spaceport.
The company also highlighted plans to conduct test flights of its planned Sidereus and Cosmos Mariner suborbital flight vehicles between Spaceport Colorado and the proposed Neil Armstrong International Air and Space Center in Titusville, Fla.
Tentative plans also call for the company to establish offices and specialized support facilities at Spaceport Colorado that may support up to 80 full-time, high-paying jobs.
“Their incentive is to help us to be in the right position, so that they will be able to come here, if that happens,” said Front Range Airport executive director Dennis Heap during the Front Range Authority board’s Oct. 10 meeting. “If we can get Spaceport Colorado stood up and obtain the license that will allow us to be a horizontal launch facility, because of our close proximity to Denver International Airport, they see this as one of the primary facilities in the United States or the world where all of this can take place.”
The airport is currently in the process of compiling information needed for the facility to apply for a spaceport license, including an environmental assessment, and a feasibility and marketing study.
In all, Heap said the studies will take about six months to complete.
Front Range Authority board member and executive director of Adams County Economic Development Barry Gore said the nod from Rocket Crafters is a step in the right direction.
“I like the fact that Rocket Crafters has gone on record as saying, ‘If Spaceport Colorado happens, we’re interested in being there,’” Gore said. “It doesn’t bind us, but just says, ‘If they’re serious to make a spaceport, then we’re serious about being a tenant.’”
Front Range Airport is at 5200 Front Range Parkway in Watkins.