Canaveral forms idea for spaceport to prepare for increased rocket activity

10/25/2017

ARTICLE ORIGINALLY FROM ORLANDO BUSINESS JOURNAL


, Orlando Business Journal 

Port Canaveral already is known as Florida’s second-busiest place for cruise ships — but it’s looking to become a key spot for rockets, too.

In fact, the Canaveral Port Authority is planning to  capitalize on the growing activity by big companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin to create an area called the spaceport.

The spaceport would accommodate more rocket activity, including recovery, buildings for refurbishment and a component-receiving facility.

“This will be the first port in the world that will have its own spaceport program,” said Luis Ajamil, president and CEO of Bermello Ajamil & Partners, an architecture, engineering and design firm working with the port, during an Oct. 16 master-plan outlook presentation.

The master plan — which looks ahead 20 and 40 years — shows Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX’s two existing refurbishment centers: a 53,360-square-foot facility and another 2.2-acre one next to it that SpaceX had approved in June.

The plan also proposes building two spaceport berths, ship wharves or docks, near SpaceX’s refurbishment centers.

Ajamil didn’t offer specifics on the berths, but they may be used for drone ships — floating landing pads at sea — that SpaceX and Blue Origin rockets can land on.

Building a spaceport gives Port Canaveral a bigger slice of the $300 billion space industry, 75 percent of which is from commercial space programs.

The cost and timeline to develop the spaceport weren’t revealed, but it’s expected to be completed within the 2017-2048 master-plan timeline.

And it is among the port’s top proposed improvements in the master plan, said Canaveral Port Authority Chairman Thomas Weinberg.

“We will do everything we can to accommodate the space industry from the water side,” Weinberg told Orlando Business Journal. “We are all very committed to give space every opportunity to grow and flourish.”

The authority is gathering information on companies’ needs that the spaceport could fulfill, Ajamil said.

So far, it appears recovering rockets and accepting materials shipments to refurbish those rockets for reuse will be among the biggest activities happening here.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which launches from and lands on Florida’s Space Coast about three times a month, could bring a lot more business to Port Canaveral as it increases its launch cadence.

SpaceX has 60 future missions lined up, its website showed.

The Port Authority also is in talks with Kent, Wash.-based Blue Origin LLC for future rocket transport opportunities, as the firm in December expects to complete its $205 million, 750,000-square-foot rocket-making center in Kennedy Space Center’s Exploration Park.

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