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. Savannah Guthrie, baby Vale send adorable birthday wishes to Al Roker

      New mom Savannah Guthrie welcomed baby Vale a week ago today. But only being a week old hasn't stopped baby Vale from wish...

    2. Billy Crystal to honor Robin Williams during Emmy Awards
    3. Take your taste buds to Santorini with these versatile wines
    4. Summer hair hacks! Bloggers share their most ingenious tricks
    5. The worst baby names of the year: Ransom, Craven and more unfortunate choices

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. Nicole Tung / freejamesfoley.org via AP file

    Journalist James Foley's parents 'haunted' by how he died

    8/20/2014 7:35:14 PM +00:00 2014-08-20T19:35:14
  1. Cindy Ord / Getty Images

    6 things I wish I knew before getting a dog

    8/20/2014 5:25:06 PM +00:00 2014-08-20T17:25:06
  1. Savannah Guthrie via Twitter

    Savannah Guthrie, baby Vale send adorable birthday wishes to Al Roker

    8/20/2014 6:43:47 PM +00:00 2014-08-20T18:43:47
  1. Jeff Christensen / Reuters file

    Billy Crystal to honor Robin Williams during Emmy Awards

    8/20/2014 7:29:28 PM +00:00 2014-08-20T19:29:28
  1. On milestone birthday, Al shares 6 lessons for 6 decades

     Al Roker, who joined the national broadcast in 1996, is celebrating the big 6-0 and he’s sharing six lessons he learned along the way.

    8/20/2014 12:08:26 PM +00:00 2014-08-20T12:08:26
  2. video Jennifer Hudson, Heidi Klum, send well-wishes for Al

    video Some famous faces send along happy birthday messages for TODAY’s Al Roker. “You make 60 look hot,” said Heidi Klum.

    8/20/2014 2:10:22 PM +00:00 2014-08-20T14:10:22
  3. ‘Everybody loves you, buddy!’Joe Biden surprises Al for birthday

    For the last year, Al has been begging the vice president to join TODAY’s Take and it finally happened! That was just one of the many surprises for Roker on his big day.

    8/20/2014 2:06:34 PM +00:00 2014-08-20T14:06:34
  4. Peter Kramer / NBC