By Dave Berman
The owner of three local general-aviation airports now wants to take over operations of Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility as part of a two-pronged approach to attract more space-related companies to the area.
The Titusville-Cocoa Airport Authority on Tuesday will seek Brevard County Commission support in its bid to operate the Shuttle Landing Facility, a 15,000-foot-long runway that opened in 1976. It is asking the County Commission to approve a resolution to indicate that the authority “is the logical choice to be the entity responsible for assisting NASA in repurposing the Shuttle Landing Facility as a multiuser spaceport.”
Kennedy Space Center is seeking applications by Sept. 24 to operate and maintain the landing site and surrounding facilities, and could decide on a governmental or commercial operator by next spring. The new operator could take over as early as October 2013.
Titusville-Cocoa Airport Authority Board Chairman Jerry Sansom said being selected by KSC to operate the Shuttle Landing Facility would work well in conjunction with the authority’s separate ongoing effort to have its Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville designated a spaceport by the Federal Aviation Administration. Sansom said he expects FAA approval by the end of next year.
“Certain operators require facilities to have a spaceport license to carry out their operations,” Sansom said.
For example, Rocket Crafters, a Utah-based company that recently decided to establish operations at Space Coast Regional Airport, is hoping to demonstrate that its project to provide high-speed, point-to-point air transport could operate from a conventional airport, Sansom said. It would be able to take off and land from Space Coast Regional Airport if that airport gets a spaceport license.
Other companies, meanwhile, might want to operate both from a commercial airport like Space Coast Regional and a specialized facility like the Shuttle Landing Facility, Sansom said. When Space Coast Regional gets spaceport designation and if the airport authority gets approval to run the nearby Shuttle Landing Facility, he said, it would clear up logistical issues of companies dealing with two entities.