Proposal would transform Ellington Field into futuristic spaceport


HOUSTON – A new page in exploration for the Space City is on the horizon.

The proposal would see nearly 100 year old Ellington Field transformed into a futuristic spaceport.

It's a site that could one day support space tourism and even suborbital commercial flights that would cut international travel time by more than half.

"They would fly at hypersonic Mach 5 or beyond," said Mario Diaz, director of the Houston Airport System. "That would make a flight or provide a flight from Houston to Singapore in under four hours. That's value."

The Houston Airport System and the FAA held a joint public meeting to discuss the latest step in the proposal.

"I think it's going to be pretty awesome," said Clear Lake resident Richard Sessions. "It's exciting, it really is."

Sessions, a private pilot who lives near and flies out of Ellington Field, was one resident who showed up with questions.

"Of course (there will be) hazards," said Sessions. "Are they going to be using special fuels, chemicals, things like that? What's the sound like? Many people are thinking sonic booms, things like that, right over the airport. (That's) not really going to be the case."

The spaceport also could have the capability for more astronaut training, zero-gravity research, and a launch/recovery site for reusable launch vehicles. Those possibilities could lead to the creation of new jobs.

"(It could be) new batteries, or new navigations, or new materials, or new propulsion systems," said Diaz. "All of which will benefit the economy of Houston."

Public comment on the proposal is scheduled to end Jan. 31. If approved, the airport system could receive its license for a spaceport by June, but the first launch could be three to four years away. If approved, Ellington Field would become the nation's 10th licensed spaceport.

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