By David E. Ruppel, Director, Colorado Air and Space Port
On August 17, 2017 Front Range Airport in Watkins, Colorado received the eleventh Launch Site Operators License issued by the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation. Upon receiving the license from the FAA, the facility officially became known as Colorado Air and Space Port, retiring the Spaceport Colorado and Front Range Airport names.
Colorado Air and Space Port is a broad-based, statewide economic development initiative that will sustain and accelerate Colorado’s world-class aerospace industry.
By attracting high-value aerospace technology clusters that support the suborbital commercial space market for scientific research, education, and space tourism, this horizontal launch facility will establish Colorado as a major North American commercial space hub and position Colorado as an integral part of an emerging international system of spaceports. With the nation’s largest per capita private aerospace economy, Colorado offers aerospace companies the country’s most highly educated workforce and a dynamic atmosphere for business growth.
Eight of the nation’s top aerospace contractors have significant operations in Colorado, and more than 500 space-related companies, developing products from launch vehicles and satellites to command and control software and equipment, call the state home. More than 190,880 people are employed in space-related jobs in Colorado – a number that is expected to swell in coming years.
Along with major Department of Defense facilities and NASA research activities, the state’s universities are among the world’s best for aerospace engineering. In addition, Colorado’s central U.S. location provides one-bounce satellite communications to Europe and Asia in the same business day. Colorado is also a strategic location for the space industry, with four key military commands: Air Force Space Command, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/U.S. Army Strategic Command, NORAD, and USNORTHCOM as well as three space-related Air Force bases: Buckley, Peterson, and Schriever.
Colorado Air and Space Port is one of six dual use spaceport facilities and is situated on 3,200 acres of land. It benefits from a vibrant and growing general-aviation population and strong corporate aviation traffic which helps to support and sustain the facilities that serve both the aviation and aerospace functions. It is surrounded by 7,000 additional acres of non-residential, master-planned industrial complexes with access to heavy rail and highways.
The Air and Space Port is twenty minutes from one of the world’s most modern and efficient commercial airports, Denver International Airport (DEN). DEN’s ability to double future runway capacity gives Colorado Air and Space Port substantial feed opportunities for future Space Tourism flights and this exceptional access is readily available for businesses locating on and around the Air and Space Port.
Colorado Air and Space Port is readily accessible to the highly skilled aerospace workforce, research universities, major aerospace and defense companies in the Denver Metropolitan area and the easy access to interstate and rail infrastructure combine to make Colorado Air and Space Port an ideal location for a commercial spaceport. Colorado Air and Space Port is open for business and The First Mile Is Free!