Archived Press Releases

New Air Traffic Control Tower and Mission Control Center Opens at Cecil Air and Spaceport

A new 126-foot air traffic control tower and mission control center officially opened for operations in a ceremony at Cecil Air and Spaceport today. The mission control center was dedicated to astronaut Dr. Norman Thagard, a graduate of Paxon High School in Jacksonville.

The tower was built to accommodate immense growth at Cecil Airport. All existing buildings at the airport are leased, and in December, Boeing announced construction of a 362,000 square foot hangar on the east side of the Airport’s runway. The mission control center is intended to support horizontal launch operations at the Spaceport.  

“For more than 20 years the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) and our partners worked to build Cecil into one of the preeminent general aviation and aerospace facilities in the country,” Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) CEO Mark VanLoh said. “Today is a historic day as we look towards Cecil’s future.”  

The air traffic control tower is approximately 7,500 square feet while the mission control center is 1,831 square feet. Design and construction were made possible with grants from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and Space Florida. RS&H and Pond designed both facilities. 

“Today’s dedication of a new air traffic control tower and spaceport mission control is the next step in attracting aerospace and aviation companies to Florida,” said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello. “As the state’s aerospace ecosystem continues to grow, so too does Florida’s Spaceport System. Cecil Spaceport offers a unique capability to meet market demands of increasing commercial and government aerospace missions, and we look forward to the future activity in Jacksonville.”  

Cecil Spaceport’s mission control center will be named after Dr. Thagard, the first American astronaut to ride to space on a Russian spacecraft. The Dr. Norman Thagard Mission Control Center will be utilized by operators conducting space operations at Cecil.

“I have always been proud to tell people Jacksonville is my hometown. The things that enabled me to have a wonderful professional and family life were imbued in me by this community,” Dr. Thagard said. “Given my background as a Marine Corps fighter pilot and astronaut, it is with pride that I see Jacksonville place itself in a position to be a full-fledged and contributing member of the aerospace community. Cecil Spaceport will allow Jacksonville to play an important part in the space-age.”

For photos of the new air traffic control tower, please click here.

Aevum Inc. introduces world’s largest unmanned aircraft system with plans to launch from Cecil Spaceport

The journey toward launching from Cecil Spaceport into low Earth orbit is a parabola that took another step on Thursday afternoon when Aevum Inc. unveiled its autonomous launch vehicle.
The vehicle, called Ravn X, is the world’s largest unmanned aircraft system. it has the ability to launch satellites and other payloads up to 2,000 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. The 80-foot long, 18-foot high aircraft has a 60-foot wingspan and can reach speeds of 575 miles an hour.

Aevum has an operating and lease agreement with Cecil Spaceport. 
Last year, the company was selected by the United States Space Force to provide launch and payload integration operations. Thursday, Aevum produced a demonstration of the vehicle that will take the payloads beyond the borders of our atmosphere.

Officials at Aevum and Cecil Spaceport said testing and launch services would be held in Jacksonville in 2021. 
“Our mission at Aevum is to make space accessible for everybody,” Aevum founder and CEO JaySkylus said in a presentation. “That includes you. … This is just a starting point. As we push further and further and further. Autonomous launch will bring the cost of deploying things to orbit so far down, that it will literally be affordableto anyone.”

As Skylus noted how a user can customize its launch, he mentioned April 2021 three different times as a launch date. 
Ravn X uses an autonomous launch architecture that Skylus described as a blend of aerospace technologies, tech and software. The architecture is comprised of six systems: a ground station network, cloud services, spaceports,logistics software and tech, and autonomous launch vehicle fleet as well as ground and launch support systems.

Todd Lindner, the director of Cecil Spaceport, said Thursday’s unveiling was big for Aevum and the spaceport.
“We have been talking with Aevum for quite some time,” Lindner said. “Jay and I have worked together for years. It’s good to see it coming to fruition from a different perspective.”
Ravn X can be housed in an 8,000 square-foot hangar, uses the same jet fuel as a commercial airline and needs a mile-long runway, Skylus said. Cecil Spaceport has all three.
Aevum’s founder stated the 55,000-pound vehicle will be 70% reusable. The company’s aim is to raise the reusable rate to 95%.

Aevum has more than $1 billion in contracts with the Space Force. Its first launch into low Earth orbit will be for the Space Force’s Agile Small Launch Operational Normalizer 45 mission. 
Lt. Col. Ryan Rose, chief of the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Small Launch and Targets Division at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico, applauded Aevum’s ability to use commercial technologies in its development of an autonomous launch vehicle. She said partnering with the private sector will enhance America’s national security.

“I’m excited to see the bold innovation and responsiveness in development today by our small launch industry partners to support emerging warfighter needs,” Rose said in a statement., “The U.S. Space Force is proactively partnering with industry to support U.S. space superiority objectives. Having a robust U.S. industry providing responsive launch capability is key to ensuring the U.S. Space Force can respond to future threats.”
Lindner is less concerned about threats and more focused on the development opportunities available in the River City.

“It’s very awesome to see 2021 coming around,” Lindner said. “I’m very excited, personally and professionally. I am happy for the community of Jacksonville. This is an opportunity to (not only) show our spaceport, but we area viable option to operate Space Force operations and that’s huge.”

Dec 4, 2020, 

Will Brown
Jacksonville Business Journal

JAA Greenlights Construction of New $12 Million Hangar at Cecil Airport

[Jacksonville, FL – 30November 2020] The JacksonvilleAviation Authority Board of Directors today voted to proceed with thedevelopment of a 39,000-square-foot airplane hangar and office facility on thenorthwest side of Cecil Airport for a total cost of nearly $12 million.


The new hangar and officespace will be leased to ManTech Advanced Systems International Inc., which hasa contract with the U.S. Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance AirportProgram to support and maintain P-8A Poseidon aircraft.


The five-year lease agreementis valued at approximately $4.9 million and includes two additional five-yearoptions. The facility will also have 81,507 square feet of aircraft rampparking and onsite vehicle parking. Construction is scheduled to be completedby the first quarter of 2022.


“This lease with ManTechshows that Cecil Airport continues to be recognized as an ideal location foraviation maintenance, repair and overhaul operations,” said JAA CEO MarkVanLoh. “Moreover, we anticipate that this new hangar will begin to open up thenorthern section of Cecil Airport for additional development.”


Cecil Airport has a number ofgovernment contractors and military tenants, including LSI, the [KD1] Boeing Company, Florida Army National Guard, FleetReadiness Center Southeast, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and BorderProtection. Since 1999, more than $170 million has been invested in improvingCecil Airport’s infrastructure and facilities.

Cecil Airport is also the firstFAA-licensed horizontal launch commercial spaceport on the East Coast and the8th to be licensed in the U.S.

For more information aboutJAA, visit



 [KD1]LSI,the Boeing

Space: Entering a new frontier

Editorial: Florida and Jacksonville have big opportunities for the new generation of space exploration

With a revived space program, illustrated by the first use of an American-made rocket to ferry astronauts in nearly a decade, there are great opportunities for Florida and Jacksonville.
On May 30, two American astronauts zoomed to the Space Station on the Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket that has been used for unmanned payloads since 2010.
Private companies will be used for near-Earth orbits while NASA focuses on deep-space travel. NASA is collaborating with private businesses like Boeing and SpaceX.
But this is just the tip of the rocket on a series of space projects planned by NASA.
And with Cecil Airport qualified as one of America’s space ports, there are opportunities for business-friendly Jacksonville to take part.
NASA plans to nurture the work of the International Space Station as an economic driver.
New technologies will be developed to improve air transport. And scientific experiments will continue.
This will be conducted without a space race with the Soviets, NASA explained: “Rather, we will build upon the community of industrial, international, and academic partnerships forged for the space station. Commercial companies will play an increasing role in the space industry: launching rockets and satellites, transporting cargo and crew, building infrastructure in low-Earth orbit.”
Nevertheless, Americans would not be pleased to see China or Russia leapfrog us in space. It hasn’t been good for the American psyche to be paying the Russians $80 million a seat to ride the Soyuz rocket to the Space Station.
Though the Space Shuttle has been mothballed, the Falcon 9 rocket uses some of the same money-saving principles. The first stage can be used repeatedly as well as the Dragon spacecraft.
NASA plans to return to the moon as a necessary intermediate step in a trip to Mars.
A human landing on the moon’s South Pole is planned for 2024. But this won’t be a visit, NASA plans a permanent site there with an orbiting command module at the moon.
The practical and technological challenges for a three-year Mars mission will call for inventions. As NASA notes, “Can you take enough? Can you grow it or make it in space? Can you do your own repairs and maintenance?”
NASA’s Space Launch System will include a powerful, advanced launch vehicle capable of sending crews of four astronauts in the agency’s Orion spacecraft.
The rocket will be powerful and flexible enough to evolve.
Future space travel will include robotic adventures to Mars, Saturn and Jupiter.
Closer to Earth, NASA will be developing quiet supersonic transport. For instance, the X-57 Maxwell aircraft will be the first all-electric X-plane. The goal of the X-57 is to achieve a 500-percent increase in high-speed cruise efficiency, zero in-flight carbon emissions and flight that is much quieter for people on the ground.
Activity at Cecil
Cecil Airport is the eighth licensed commercial spaceport in the U.S. The Jacksonville Aviation Authority is constructing the infrastructure for the spaceport and has already seen its first test flight of a commercial space vehicle.
“This is an industry in its infancy but one that will play an important role in the future of Cecil Airport and the city of Jacksonville,” JAA notes on its website.
There are many business opportunities at the former NAS-Cecil Navy base. Cecil Airport includes facilities for corporate aircraft, general aviation, air cargo and National Guard and Reserve aviation. One of its fourth runways is 12,500 feet in length, one of the longest in Florida.
Combined with Cecil Commerce Center, it’s a powerful economic driver for the region.
The Jacksonville Aviation Authority inherited 1.2 million square feet of building space from the Navy, which is all leased. JAA and its partners have built more than 500,000 square feet of space that also is fully leased.
More than 4,000 people work at Cecil Airport and in the adjoining Cecil Commerce Center.
Jacksonville, once the home of three Navy bases, still has an important Navy presence at Mayport and NAS-Jax. We can see exciting future opportunities at Cecil.

Construction begins on new air traffic control tower and spaceport operations center at Cecil Airport

The Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) has begun construction on a new air traffic control tower and spaceport operations center at Cecil Airport, with completion projected in early 2021.

“The construction of our new control tower and operations center marks an exciting new development as we prepare to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the transition from NAS Cecil Field to Cecil Airport later this year,” said JAA chief executive officer Mark VanLoh. “We look forward to providing an outstanding new facility to serve the industry leaders who operate at Cecil and advance our region’s reputation for world-class aviation and aerospace opportunities.” 

With a total cost of $8.9 million, the new tower will be funded by JAA and matching Florida Department of Transportation and Space Florida funding. The contractor, Walbridge Southeast LLC, has begun digging for utilities at the future base of the tower. 

The current tower’s view of the airport is partially obstructed by newer hangars, but in the new tower, air traffic controllers will have unimpeded views of all 6,000 acres, including the new Fire Station 63. The current tower will be removed once the new tower is operational. 

In addition to the new air traffic control tower, the spaceport operation center and mission control will house telemetry and weather monitoring equipment to support Cecil Spaceport. Cecil Spaceport is the first FAA-licensed horizontal launch commercial spaceport on the East Coast and only the eighth to be licensed in the United States.

JAA plans a commissioning ceremony which will be open to the public near the completion of the project. More details will become available as the ceremony approaches.

Jacksonville Airports Contribute $6 Billion to the Florida Economy

Jacksonville, FL, April 3, 2019 – A new economic impact study by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) found that Jacksonville Aviation Authority’s (JAA) four-airport system contributes more than $6 billion annually to the local economy.

The Florida Statewide Aviation Economic Impact Study measured the benefits of on-airport impacts, visitor spending impacts, and multiplier impacts of Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport (JAXEX), Cecil Airport, and Herlong Recreational Airports.

“As this FDOT study shows, our aviation system is a significant contributor to Northeast Florida’s economy,” said JAA CEO Mark VanLoh. “The expected growth at each of our four airports will continue fueling the region’s financial health.”  

The report was prepared as part of the Florida Aviation System Plan’s (FASP) 2018 update and provided the estimated annual economic impact on Florida’s 20 commercial service airports, 100 public-use general aviation airports, and 11 military aviation facilities. A total economic impact of $175 billion dollars is generated annually by aviation in Florida. 

Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) generates $3,194,422,000, the highest economic impact of the four airports the JAA operates. It supports 26,396 jobs generating a payroll of close to one billion dollars. The airport also offers educational tours and an internship program through local colleges. 

The Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport (JAXEX) created 885 jobs, establishing a payroll of close to $33 million and provides an economic impact of over $100 million. Given its location between downtown Jacksonville and the beach, the airport attracts corporate and business users, and is home to several flight schools. 

Cecil Airport provides Northeast Florida with an economic impact of close to $3 billion, over 11,000 jobs and a total payroll of close to $700 million. Cecil Airport is a public joint civil-military airport and spaceport serving military aircraft, corporate aircraft, general aviation, and air cargo. 

Herlong Recreational is JAA’s smallest airport but still provides Florida with an economic impact of $52,471,000 and created 379 jobs with a total payroll of over $16 million.  This airport has been Northeast Florida’s primary location for light sport aircraft, skydiving, gliders, and other experimental aircraft since the 1960’s. It is home to the Soaring Society Glider Club and supports a private charter company, a flight school, skydiving business, and a maintenance shop. 

For more information about the economic impact studies, visit

Space travel coming closer to Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- We have been lifting off into the final frontier for years. But soon space travel will be happening here in North Florida.
"When you see these vehicles in the air, you can't tell the difference between them and a regular airplane," said Todd Linder, JAA senior-aviation planning and spaceport development.
The Jacksonville Aviation Authority was just awarded a grant that could eventually bring the latest space craft to Cecil Field.
Only this time you won't need a launch pad, just a runway.

"They take of just like an airplane, fly like an airplane, but they propel with a rocket," said Linder. 

JAA Will spend the next six months making sure a space craft called "Concept Y" is safe on the environment before it can be flown here. "This means more jobs, high-paying jobs, high tech jobs coming to the area."

The first space flights out of Cecil Field will probably be to conduct experiments. But JAA says eventually it will be for transportation. 

"As we go forward in the future, there will be more competition and the price will come down. And eventually everyone will be able to fly," said Linder

The first flight into space from Cecil Field could happen in the next year. Cecil Field is one of only 12 air spaces approved for space travel in the U.S.


Callahan Timber moving their equipment this week at Cecil Airport

Callahan Timber will be moving their equipment this week to the southwest corner of the field.  Callahan Timber will be using gate 10 and 12 to access and haul timber.  Gate 10/Old Middleburg Road will be used as a haul route.  They will stage logging trailers near gate 10 along the Perimeter road

Click here to view map

Master plan: Cecil Spaceport could grab market share -

Cecil Spaceport stands to garner a significant portion, estimated at up to 10 percent, of the emerging space travel market, according to a Jacksonville Aviation Authority administrator.

Todd Lindner, the authority’s administrator of planning and development, presented the figures Monday to the JAA board as part of a Cecil Spaceport master plan presentation.
The plan originated in April 2011.

According to a plan update, a market share summary study by Futron Corp. for 2021-25 said that nationwide there could be 13,000-25,000 annual space tourists generating revenue of $676 million-$1.26 billion.
Cecil Spaceport could support a 10 percent market share with about 250 annual launches that draw 1,300-2,500 participants and generate revenue of $67.6 million-$126 million to vendors.
In the space tourism industry, orbital flights cost between $20 million to $30 million while suborbital flights are $100,000-$200,000.

Lindner said that Jacksonville and Cecil Spaceport have a projected competitive advantage because of location and proximity to federal spaceports.

Other commercial spaceports in California, Virginia and New Mexico are close to federal spaceports and compete among each other for federal funds and launch approvals, Lindner said.

Cecil Spaceport is the closest to a city that could provide additional amenities for space tourists, he said.
Cecil Spaceport’s only weakness was the lack of an agreement with a vehicle developer. Strengths included the existing infrastructure, tourism potential and the technical workforce.

Among the recommendations are development of a visitor’s center, taxiways, approach roads and the revision of an environmental assessment.,

Jax Spaceport becoming a reality

May 23, 2012
With the launch of a privately owned rocket into space earlier this week, the idea of spacecraft launches from Jacksonville is slowly being brought to life.

"I'd love to watch it, certainly come out and watch it," said Doug Hampt, who's excited about a potential spaceport.

Cecil Spaceport, with help from the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, could be the site of that reality.

"Right now we're looking at probably a launch possibly occurring toward the end of 2013 or the early stages of 2014," said Todd Lindner, of JAA.

It may not look like much now, but there are plans for permanent buildings at Cecil Airport on the Westside designed to attract commercial industry heading to outer space.

"They'll be conducting research, conducting experiments, microgravity experiments, also they'll be doing different activities to accommodate the tourism industry," Lindner said.

The thing that makes this spaceport special is the runway. At more than 12,000 feet long, it's the second longest runway in the state.

The runway will offer more than enough room for a horizontal launch. There's a clear vision for what's to come.

"We will extend out the taxiway here right at the approach end of this runway, and it will mirror what's going on on the west side of the airport," said Kelly Dollarhide, of JAA.