Nov 12, 2014
Jensen Werley, Reporter
Jacksonville Business Journal
Cecil Spaceport is looking to renew its license, which is due to expire in January, for another five years, said Rusty Chandler, chief of Cecil Airport.
One change the airport will seek in the renewal: the ability to keep the airport side of things operating while activity is happening at the spaceport.
Now, the airport runway has to shut down if a rocket is going to be launched during the period between the oxidation of the rocket fuel and actual lift off. The renewed lease will limit any impacts on regular aviation.
Meanwhile, state grants are enabling the Jacksonville Aviation Authority to improve the infrastructure at the site. Two grants were received, the first being $2 million from the state budget for spaceport infrastructure. The second will be received soon, a $1 million grant from Space Florida.
The money will be used to open up the east side of the runway with a taxiway connector and ramp area, with construction beginning next year. The east side site will be tucked away and used predominantly for spacecraft, to eliminate any negative impacts on the regular airport. The connector and ramp will allow easier access to the area.
"If we did that on the developed side of the airport, it may impact a tenant," Chandler said. "We strategically located it in an area that won't impact anyone in the future, but we can gain access at anytime. We don't want to impact regular aviation, but we want to integrate them at the same time."
A hangar on the west side that's under construction can be used as an interim storage space to store spacecraft. Chandler said Cecil Airport is working with their fixed-base operator Jetport on the hangar, which will have room to accommodate space vehicles in the short term, and will eventually be moved to the east side of the property.
Jensen covers logistics, manufacturing and defense