January 25, 2012
The Jacksonville Aviation Authority Board of Directors has accepted a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation to conduct an Environmental Assessment, which will examine the environmental impacts and investigate the feasibility of the operation of a Concept 'Y' Horizontal Launch - Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) at Cecil Spaceport.
While Concept 'X' and Concept 'Z' Vehicles take-off using the typical turbojet engines to reach a predetermined location and altitude before igniting a rocket engine, Concept 'Y' Vehicles are powered by a rocket engine for the entire span of their operation.
In January 2010, after completing the original Environmental Assessment and Launch Site Operator's License application process, JAA was issued a Commercial Spaceport license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The license allows the airport to accommodate 52 horizontal takeoffs annually of sub-orbital horizontal launch vehicles.
“While preparing the original Spaceport Environmental Assessment for Cecil Spaceport, the Concept ‘Y’ Vehicle was not included as a result of a lack of available performance data and proprietary nature of existing data,” said Todd Lindner, JAA Senior Manager-Aviation Planning and Spaceport Development. “With the continuing evolution of the Concept ‘Y’ Vehicle, more performance-based data has become available, which will be used for incorporation into the environmental analysis.”
Lindner added that JAA does not anticipate significant environmental impacts will occur as a result of the operation of the Concept 'Y' Vehicle. Once the Environmental Assessment is complete, JAA plans to modify the existing Launch Site Operators License to incorporate the Concept 'Y' Vehicle.
Cecil Airport is one of 12 Commercial Spaceports in the United States, one of eight maintaining licensed horizontal launch capabilities, and the only one in Florida.