Houston Approves $18.8 Million for Ellington Spaceport Program

Artist’s impression of future Ellington spaceport. (Credit: Houston Airport System)

The Houston City Council has approved $18.8 million for the first phase of an ambitious effort to develop a spaceport at Ellington Airport.

The funding will pay for the construction of basic spaceport infrastructure, including streets, water, wastewater, electrical power distribution facilities, and communications facilities, according to the City Council agenda.

The council awarded the contract for the improvements, which are designed to help attract potential users of the spaceport, to Texas Sterling-Banicki, JV LLC.

Houston Spaceport is being designed to support the launch of suborbital, reusable vehicles. Officials have also opened the Houston Aerospace Support Center (HASC), which offers 53,000 square feet of laboratory office and technology incubator space and hardware production facilities.

  • Robert G. Oler

    the airport needs fixing up but this will go nowhere until maybe SNC flies maybe

  • Jeff2Space

    This will go so much better than the spaceport in New Mexico! /s

  • ThomasLMatula

    They have had over a dozen paid commercial launches from Spaceport America, more than the the other start-up spaceports combined. The only spaceports with more launches then Spaceport America are Kennedy, Wallops and VAFB.

    Or do you think firms like UP Aerospace a flying for free?

  • Michael Halpern

    Nothing orbital, and that’s where the money is,

  • duheagle

    VG is certainly Lord knows how far away from doing any revenue flights out of Spaceport America. But, in fairness, Up Aerospace and Exos Aerospace have both conducted sounding rocket launches from there. Up has done more than one.

  • Jeff2Space

    I stand corrected. There have been several (obviously uncrewed) suborbital launches out of there. But I still have to wonder if that justifies the more than $200 million investment in the facility. In other words, have the taxpayers made back their investment yet?

    It seems like when the place was built they were selling it as a hub for crewed suborbital flights. No paying crewed suborbital flights have taken place yet, correct?

  • duheagle

    Yes, results have certainly lagged far behind expectations. The big building is basically an airline-style terminal building. Like airline terminals, it is intended primarily for people. As you note, there are no people flying anywhere out of Spaceport America nor have there ever been any nor are any likely to do so for some additional indefinite interval. If VG doesn’t get its act together fairly soon, I suspect the remaining political defenders of SA are going to be voted out of office and the place will join the ranks of other large desert-located projects that went nowhere – like Biosphere 2 or Arcosanti.

  • Michael Halpern

    Biosphere 2 we learned quite a bit from, we just couldn’t follow up on it

  • Robert G. Oler

    maybe…we will see I have a feeling that VG is going to make some good stuff happen with this

  • duheagle

    Yes, we learned quite a bit from Biosphere 2. Unfortunately, most of what we learned seemed to be just replication experiments confirming fairly off-putting things about human nature, greed and fraud.

    What we learned from Arcosanti is that European utopianism, American hippies and reinforced concrete don’t mix well.

  • Michael Halpern

    and that we need equipment to consider uncontrolled variables like insects when we build an artificial biosphere

  • duheagle

    By “this” I take it you mean suborbital spaceflight. Because I know of no connection between VG and Ellington Airport.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Yes suborbital…