October 29, 2014
Jim Piggott, General assignment reporter
Many people in Jacksonville and north Florida may not beaware, but Cecil Airport is also a spaceport.
There are plans set to launch rockets from the old Navybase, but not like what most are used to seeing.
The Cecil Spaceport has been certified by the federalgovernment and is set to go. The launches there will be quite different. Therewill not be vertical rockets, but horizontal launches. Small Rockets strappedto jets will fly out over the ocean and launch from there.
The first launch is set for December 2016, but there havealready been tests run by Atlanta-based Generation Orbit Launch, or GO Launchfor short.
In July, it tested out a space flight that started at CecilSpaceport and ended with a rocket launch over the ocean. It used a Learjet witha mock rocket attached. The test was to get a feeling of what workers need todo for the real thing. The rocket was never launched.
The Aviation Authority has spent several million dollarsgetting the permits and preparing to build a hanger for a much larger plane.
"We have the infrastructure in place right now to dothose operations," said Rusty Chandler, of Cecil Spaceport.
GO Launch has teamed up with NASA to put small satellitesinto orbit that could be used in communications research and other areas.
GO Launch CEO John Olds said the company is still gettingready and working on funding for the launch in December 2016.
"That is the current plan," Olds said. "It issomewhat dependent on finances allowing that to happen. We have to get a lot ofcash infusion into the company to make that happen."
After the rocket explosion Tuesday in Virginia, some arewondering how safe it is to have private contractors do this.
"Ignition from the rocket itself would not take placeuntil we are 200 miles out over the ocean, east of Jacksonville," Oldssaid. "So the actual start up of the rocket would be out of sight forobservers in Jacksonville. If there was a failure -- and we keep our fingerscrossed their wont be -- it would occur well away from the city."