February 16, 2015
By Jessica Palombo
An airport on the Southwest side of Jacksonville is readying itself for a different kind of flight. Cecil Spaceport has completed some of its first upgrades to get ready for trips to outer space.
Aviation officials say Cecil Spaceport’s target launch date is some time next year. That’s when a horizontal-launching spacecraft fitted with a rocket on its belly is first expected to take off to put small satellites in earth’s orbit.
Jacksonville Aviation Authority spokesman Michael Stewart says the spaceport is competing with others, like ones in Virginia and California, for a piece of a growing private space travel industry.
“Space exploration is coming back as the economy gets stronger, and we hope that Florida, and particularly Cecil Spaceport, will be a part of that," he said.
Stewart says planners originally envisioned space tourism taking off at Cecil Spaceport, and it’s still something Jacksonville would like to court. But in the near future, the small satellites will likely be the only passengers. The satellite launching service will be run through a contract with a company called Generation Orbit, he says.
A spacecraft runway and taxiways are already complete.