1. Headline
  1. Headline
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 11/30/2005 9:18:51 PM ET 2005-12-01T02:18:51

A former Navy base in Jacksonville, Fla., may soon become a commercial spaceport for suborbital passenger trips.

  1. More from TODAY.com
    1. Chris Pratt wows us — and his wife — on 'Guardians' red carpet

      Actor Chris Pratt's well-documented transformation into buff leading man took another turn in the spotlight Monday as he w...

    2. Sales tax breaks boost back-to-school shoppers' spending power
    3. Sweet (and sexy) swimsuit trends
    4. To spank or not to spank? TODAY anchors discuss disciplining kids
    5. 'Good news': Little girls battling cancer in viral photo share update

During a Dec. 7 teleconference, the Florida Space Authority, an economic development agency at Cape Canaveral, will discuss whether to start the process of turning the Cecil Commerce Center, which is named after a Navy blimp pilot, into a spaceport.

The proposal would also require approval of the Jacksonville Airport Authority, which has controlled the airport portion of the base since Cecil Field Naval Air Station closed in 1999.

Under the plan, spacecraft carrying passengers would piggyback on large planes. The actual engine firings and sonic booms would take place over the ocean, airport authority officials said.

Jacksonville and Titusville, near the Kennedy Space Center, have been considered as locations for a spaceport, but Titusville's infrastructure is much smaller than Cecil Field, according to a study by the Space Authority. Cape Canaveral, where the Florida Space Authority is headquartered, also has been mentioned as a potential site for commercial space travel operations.

Already a backup landing strip for the space shuttle, Cecil Field's runway is 12,500 feet (3,750 meters) long and 200 feet (60 meters) wide. Consultants say the "ideal spaceport" would have a runway at least 10,000 feet (3000 meters) long and 200 feet (60 meters) wide.

If the Cecil Field project gets approval from the Space Authority, officials would still have to get a license from the Federal Aviation Administration and approval from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. That process could take several months, said Michael Stewart, a spokesman for the airport authority.

It is not clear who would pay for construction of the spaceport, which would cost between $10.5 million and $28 million. Airport officials said the facility would be used by private business.

Plans call for the site to launch passengers on suborbital spaceflights, but it also could ultimately be used for other businesses, including orbital satellite launches.

Space Authority consultants said by the end of the decade, Florida could see dozens of launches per year. They estimate the economic impact to be between $6.3 million and $17.5 million and create between 35 and 115 jobs.

The FAA has given its approval for five commercial spaceports so far: Cape Canaveral in Florida; the Virginia Space Flight Center; facilities at the Mojave Airport and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California; and the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska. Spaceports also are under consideration in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

This report includes information from The Associated Press and MSNBC.com.

© 2013 msnbc.com

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Courtesy Aldrich Family

    ‘Extraordinary’ 8-year-old boy finishes triathlon with his disabled brother

    7/22/2014 4:35:28 PM +00:00 2014-07-22T16:35:28
  1. Feds ban airlines from flying to Tel Aviv airport

    Federal aviation officials issued an order to airlines prohibiting them from flying to and from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport for 24 hours after a rocket struck near the airport earlier Tuesday.

    7/22/2014 5:43:01 PM +00:00 2014-07-22T17:43:01
  2. Dutch collect DNA to match with MH17 victims
  1. Prince George’s birthday: The royal tot’s 10 cutest moments

    He likes stuffed animals, he’s got chubby cheeks and he’s also pretty photogenic.

    7/22/2014 1:11:51 PM +00:00 2014-07-22T13:11:51
  2. New photos capture wonder of George turning 1 

    Kensington Palace released three pictures of Prince George to mark his birthday.

    7/21/2014 9:35:28 PM +00:00 2014-07-21T21:35:28
  3. No picky eating! How to raise a royal baby

    As Prince George turns 1, we couldn't help but ask: What exactly does it take to raise a royal baby?

    7/22/2014 6:35:04 PM +00:00 2014-07-22T18:35:04
  4. EPA file
  1. Coke is a stain remover? 6 surprising cleaners in your home

    From those annoying white deodorant stains on your little black dress to rust stains in the commode, some stains just won't go away — until now. With help from some savvy experts, we put together surprising tips to banish these stains once and for all.

    7/22/2014 4:48:22 PM +00:00 2014-07-22T16:48:22