By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
It's rare to find funding, support, and space for a new airport in the U.S., but on Tuesday the FAA said it will provide nearly $500,000 in grants to three projects in California, Colorado, and Hawaii to help develop and expand the infrastructure for commercial space transportation. "Government and private-sector partnerships are essential to carrying out our national space policies," said FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta. "Today's grants help keep America competitive." Efforts to develop proposals for new commercial launch sites in Hawaii and Colorado won grants of $250,00 and $200,000, and a grant of $23,750 will go to buy a new rapid-response firefighting system for the Mojave Spaceport, in California.
The FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation, created in 1984, is responsible for licensing, regulating and promoting the commercial space transportation industry. It has issued licenses for more than 200 launches and licensed the operation of eight FAA-approved spaceports. Many other projects are in the works around the country. For example, Florida officials recently asked NASA to give them 150 acres of land north of the former shuttle launch pads, as well as the shuttle runway, for aerospace development. In Colorado, the FAA recently provided $200,000 in funding to study building a spaceport near Denver. And in south Texas, SpaceX is searching for a launch site, although Florida officials and several other states are also courting the company.