January 22, 2016
Investing in the future of aerospace industry and space exploration — and the future of Houston — earned the Houston Spaceport the Deal of the Year for 2015 in the inaugural Houston Business Journal Deals of the Year awards announced Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015.
Selected from 47 finalists in a variety of categories, the Houston Spaceport was honored “for its potential as an economic driver for years to come,” according to the Houston Business Journal. The Houston Spaceport also was nominated and won in the Economic Development of the Year category.
“The Houston Airport System would like to thank the members of the Houston Business Journal selection committee for recognizing Houston Spaceport as the inaugural Deal of the Year recipient,” said Houston Aviation Director Mario Diaz. “A city as vibrant and dynamic as Houston is undoubtedly going to produce a host of major business deals on a regular basis and to be singled out in this fashion is a tremendous honor. Moving forward, we hope to live up to this impressive new title by expanding on Houston’s well-earned reputation as Space City, USA.”
In June 2015, the Houston Airport System was awarded a license from the Federal Aviation Administration, making Ellington Airport the 10th commercial spaceport in the United States and one of two such spaceports in the state of Texas.
The license makes Ellington Airport a potential launch and landing site for suborbital, reusable launch vehicles. Already, committed partners to the program include the Houston Airport System, NASA, the Greater Houston Partnership, The Sierra Nevada Corp., the City of Houston, Rice Space Institute, Texas A&M Aerospace Technology, University of Houston College of Architecture, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, U.K.-based Catapult Satellite Applications, and Intuitive Machines.
Still in the developmental stage, construction will eventually include a co-working space located in a recently purchased 53,000 square foot building adjacent to Ellington, room for several aerospace companies, and more.
More importantly, the Houston Business Journal said, “The Spaceport will put Houston back on the map as a frontrunner in the private space race and direct millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs to Houston’s economy.”
“The Houston Spaceport has grown from conception to reality,” said Ellington General Manager Arturo Machuca, who accepted the awards Thursday on behalf of the Houston Airport System. “Already we have seen progress in developing relationships with partners and identifying business opportunities that will help this project grow. The benefit to Houston and the region is limitless.”
One partner, Sierra Nevada Space Systems, recently won a piece of a multibillion-dollar NASA contract, making it one of three companies charged with resupplying the International Space Station starting in 2019. Sierra Nevada signed a letter of intent with the Houston Airport System in April 2014 indicating its goal of working towards the establishment of landing operations at Houston Spaceport.
And in November 2015, the Houston Spaceport and NASA signed an Umbrella Agreement that will allow the new venture to tap into the federal space agency’s assets and expertise, expanding the possibilities for the growing commercial spaceflight industry. The Houston Spaceport and NASA will collaborate, providing access to a number of the unique capabilities at the Johnson Space Center, including things like safety-specific training, facilities, and technology capabilities, to support suborbital operations and commercial spaceflight endeavors.