- Parabolic Arc
- November 29, 2023
Dawn Aerospace Explores Flying From Paso Robles
Paso Robles is a lovely part of California that is best known for vineyards and fine wines. But, officials want to add spaceflight to the town’s portfolio by turning Paso Robles Municipal Airport into a spaceport.
Mayor Steve Martin and city staff recently met with representatives of Dawn Aerospace, a New Zealand company that is developing an automated space plane that would launch small satellites after taking off from a conventional runway. Paso Robles Daily News reports:
“Identifying real-world partners such as Dawn Aerospace is a critical part of our spaceport application,” said Martin. “Using their vehicle specifications, we will be able to customize the use of our airport to accommodate these space planes while maintaining general aviation services for regular aircraft.” Martin said city staff is working to draft a letter of intent with Dawn Aerospace.
Paso Robles is working with other parties that are interested in flying from the airport. In March, the City Council voted unanimously to approve a non-binding letter of intent to work with Wagner Star Industries and California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo to explore how a space plane named Quetzalcóatl could launch satellites from the airport.
Wagner Star wanted to transform the two-person suborbital Lynx space plane that was being developed by XCOR Aerospace into an automated vehicle that would take off from a runway, release a small satellite with an upper stage attached, and glide back to land at its host airport.
The first Lynx vehicle was partially finished when XCOR went bankrupt in in November 2017. A nonprofit organization named Build A Plane purchased XCOR’s assets at auction for just under $1.1 million in April 2018.
Members of the City Council, Planning Commission, and Airport Commission participated in a workshop in March during which they heard a presentation from Tartaglia Engineering and S.O. Witt and Associates. The latter company is headed by Stu Witt, the former CEO of the Mojave Air and Space Port in California where XCOR was located before it went bankrupt.
Paso Robles Municipal Airport would need to be designated as a spaceport by the Federal Aviation Administration before any space flights could take place.