Jacksonville Business Journal
January 26, 2012
The Jacksonville Aviation Authority board has accepted a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation to conduct an environmental assessment of horizontal space launches at Cecil Spaceport.
The FDOT grant for $140,000 will be matched with $21,545 from JAA.
The assessment will determine what, if any, environmental impacts the Concept “Y” Horizontal Launch-Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) will have at Cecil Spaceport, in addition to investigating the feasibility of the operation.
Horizontal launches — the process of reaching space on an incline — are generally less expensive than vertical launches, which are the main type of departure at Cape Canaveral.
The Concept “Y” Vehicle is powered by a rocket engine for its entire operation, as opposed to the Concept “X” and Concept “Z” Vehicles that use a typical turbojet engine until reaching a predetermined location and altitude before switching to a rocket engine.
Todd Lindner, JAA senior manager-aviation planning and spaceport development, said that JAA does not expect significant environmental impacts from the operation of the Concept "Y" Vehicle. Once the environmental assessment is complete, JAA plans to modify the existing launch site operator's license to incorporate the Concept "Y" Vehicle.
JAA received a commercial spaceport license from the Federal Aviation Authority in 2010, allowing the airport 52 horizontal takeoffs annually of suborbital horizontal launch vehicles.
The Concept "Y" vehicle was not included in the original license because there was not enough data available at the time to determine if an assessment was a possibility, said Michael Stewart, director of external affairs at JAA.
Cecil Airport is one of 12 commercial spaceports in the United States, one of eight maintaining licensed horizontal launch capabilities, and the only one in Florida.
A public workshop Feb. 7 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Cecil Airport Conference Center at the Cecil Commerce Center will provide general information and comment about the RLV program. For more information about the workshop, call (904) 741-2228.