Midland Advances Toward Spaceport License

It looks like Midland has clear sailing toward obtaining a spaceport license that would allow XCOR Aerospace to move to the west Texas city:

Midland International Airport continues on its mission to obtain a spaceport license by Sept. 15 by passing a 30-day public comment period with no objections and solving a minor hiccup caused by the lesser prairie chicken’s threatened status.

At Thursday’s Spaceport Development Corp. meeting, Director of Airports Marv Esterly said the next step in the spaceport license process is the Federal Aviation Administration’s “finding of no significant impact,” which is the final approval of the environmental assessment for the spaceport, expected to be passed in 30 days.

But one minor threat, what Esterly called a “small glitch,” was the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s listing in March of the lesser prairie chicken as “threatened,” after the airport drafted its environmental assessment. Esterly said the airport contacted FWS and submitted information to the agency that explained the spaceport wouldn’t have any effect on the bird.

The airport will receive a letter from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approving the information submitted and attach it to the environmental assessment, Esterly said.

The spaceport license is still slated for Sept. 15, but can be approved anytime after the environmental assessment’s final approval. Esterly said the airport has been coordinating with the FAA for the last 1 1/2 years and that there is nothing new in the spaceport application that the agency doesn’t already know.

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