Colorado has applied to the FAA of spaceport certification of Front Range Airport, which is about 22 miles from Denver and six miles from Denver International Airport. The reason? To prepare for the impending era of suborbital, point-to-point passenger service:
The impetus for applying for spaceport certification now is the result of serious interest on the part of out-of-state companies preparing for future space tourism, said Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.
The companies, which Clark would not identify, are working on a spacecraft that takes off horizontally from a runway like a plane but then, tens of thousands of feet into the air, lights a booster rocket capable to taking passengers past the upper reaches of the atmosphere, Clark said.
That would open up the possibility not just of space travel to ordinary — but wealthy — people, but also of ultrafast travel to points on Earth, he said.
“Once you light that thing, then you’re in Sydney [Australia] in an hour and a half,” Clark said. “We in Colorado like to brag about being able to ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon. This would let us boast we can ski in morning and be surfing just after lunch — that’s the future these people are talking about.”
It’s a great vision. I’m not sure just how quickly that will happen. There are a lot of steps involved and it could take some time. On the other hand, why wait until it’s here to get a spaceport designation? And in the meantime, Colorado would be able to attract companies developing the vehicles.