Why We Need Space Ports
The Texas Space Alliance believes the Lone Star state needs to develop its own space ports to compete on the world stage.
As of now Florida, Virginia and California are operating various space ports, and investing private and taxpayer funds to make grow these operations and get in early on the rising commercial space flight market – as well as enhancing their ability to be the taking off point for military launches and government voyages of exploration and discovery.
Like the seaports of the world, those places that become points of departure and return for voyages to space will in the future develop into major economic and cultural engines for our economy, assuring Texas’s place at the center of what we believe is going to be the opening of the grandest frontier of all time.
Why Space Port(s)?
The reason we use the plural version of the term space ports is because we see a distinct set of needs and opportunities for our state in the development and operation of two or more kinds of space ports:
Sub-Orbital space flights are typically to altitudes of 60 miles or less. This is the sort of flight you might have heard is being offered by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and other firms including Texas based Armadillo Aerospace and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.
These flights are typically short duration and are being offered at costs of $50-$200k.
However, there is no typical sub-orbital rocketship or platform. Armadillo and Blue Origin are flying virtually straight up and down flights, whereas Virgin Galactic and other firms such as California based (for now) XCOR Aerospace are flying winged vehicles which require long runways and nearby back up landing areas. To date all of the sub-orbital space ships are completely re-useable, with no dropping of used stages or elements, making them suitable for either inland or coastal locations.
Orbital space flight is an entirely different regime than sub-orbital. This is the sort of flight you are used to seeing with the space shuttle or satellite launches. The vehicles are much larger, carry vastly larger quantities of fuel and must accelerate to tens of thousand of miles per hour to reach successful orbit. Typically they fly over ocean areas to avoid dropping expended stages or having to abort to populated areas. This is why Cape Kennedy is on the Florida coast.
Depending on what they are carrying, be it a communications satellite or payload (or passengers) en route to the current space station, the launch trajectory must be chosen with care, to minimize the amount of maneuvering they have to do once in space. Also, if possible the location of the launch facility should be as close to the Earth’s equator as possible, to take advantage of the planet’s rotation to add speed and lower the amount of propellant needed.
You may not know it, but when the US was considering where to put its premier orbital space launch facility, Texas was under strong consideration before Florida was chosen. (more on this later)
The following topics will be addressed in coming weeks:
Why Texas needs to begin developing space ports now.
Why Texas needs to invest in spaceports.
Inland vs. Coastal Space Ports
Why a Commercial International Space Port?
The history of Texas spaceports
What a Texas Spaceport might look like.
How a Texas Spaceport might be operated.