Oklahoma Looks To Space

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Move over Mojave, there's competition for the spaceport business. As AVweb told you a couple of weeks ago, Mojave Airport in California is the odds-on favorite to become the country's first certified private spaceport. But the folks around Burns Flat, Okla., are hoping investors will see the wisdom of turning an abandoned Air Force base near there into a launch facility. According to The Space Review, the state is also hyping the idea of converting the former Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base and has even created a new office, the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority, to give it that smack of credibility. The big (really big) factor in favor of the Burns Flat bid is the 13,000-foot runway, one of the longest stretches of concrete in the U.S. The runway was built to launch nuclear-laden B-52s during the Cold War and the military still uses it to train tanker and cargo pilots. The remnants of the base (including nuclear bomb bunkers) need repair but the basic infrastructure is there. Several companies have signed deals with the state for tax incentives but none have moved in. The FAA hasn't licensed the facility as a spaceport, either.