County Granted Spaceport License

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted a site operator license to Adams County after a 180-day review period, the 11th such license granted in the United States. The formal announcement and news conference are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Monday, August 20, at the Government Center in Brighton. 

“Facilities like our spaceport will be developed around the country and the world,” said Mary Hodge, chair of the Adams County Board of Commissioners. “We’ll be building a hub that connects Colorado to commercial aerospace and research opportunities across the globe.”

The county’s spaceport application allows vehicles making horizontal takeoffs and landings. The vehicles will take off like traditional airplanes using jet fuel and fly to a special-use airspace where rocket boosters launch the craft into suborbital flight. To land, the craft drops out of suborbital flight and lands like a traditional airplane.

The spaceport will also provide a boost to the state’s economy by keeping the nearly 200,000 jobs connected to the aerospace industry in Colorado as well as creating new ones.

“This license supports the rapid pace of innovation of Colorado-based companies while inviting new investment to grow these 21st century jobs throughout the state,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “Colorado welcomes the chance to write the next chapter in our country’s space history.”

Gaining a site operator’s license is the first step in a layered process. A space company will have to apply to be licensed as an operator at the spaceport, and the vehicle that company employs for suborbital flight will also be approved and licensed.

“The license from the FAA is an important step in the process, and we’re looking forward to partnering with a company that shares our vision for the spaceport and the technological and commercial benefits it brings to Colorado,” said Airport Director Dave Ruppel.

Located at the former Front Range Airport, six miles from Denver International Airport and only 30 minutes east of downtown Denver, the spaceport site contains 3,200 acres and is surrounded by 7,000 more acres of privately owned industrial property.

“There are huge commercial development opportunities both on site and in the surrounding area,” said Adams County Manager Raymond H. Gonzales. “When combined with other developments planned for the area, this part of Adams County is poised to become a major international commercial hub.”

Future spaceport operations will be based at the current location of Front Range Airport in Watkins. An update on this facility and the name of this spaceport will be revealed during Monday’s news conference.