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Spaceport Planning

Spaceport Planning & Design for Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility

In support of the launch of Antares launch vehicle, RS&H was selected by the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority to perform both the initial site configuration studies and the complete spaceport planning and design of Pad 0A at the Wallops Flight Facility. Upon completion of the initial studies, RS&H was able to select an optimal pad layout concept, designing Pad 0A to accommodate a single, 90-second duration static firing of a 1,000,000-pound thrust vehicle.

In addition to the design of the vehicle launch mount, launch pad, and flame deflector, the design scope encompassed the immediate pad area, including approach ramp, launch deck apron, pad access, storm water drainage, pad deluge system piping and supports, elevated water tank, liquid oxygen and kerosene tanks installation, cross country fuel distribution piping supports, associated electrical, and lightning protection system (large frame structures, roadways, waterways, electrical distribution, storm water conveyance, utilities, concrete, steel and vibration design).

All design was performed in STAAD and Pro E. The design submittals included a construction implementation plan, schedule, and C-100 cost estimate. RS&H provided construction management services during the construction of the pad.

Glasgow Prestwick Airport

RS&H provided engineering and planning support to Glasgow Prestwick Airport Limited to evaluate the feasibility of developing and licensing a commercial spaceport at Prestwick Glasgow Airport in Prestwick, Scotland, UK in pursuit of being designated the first UK Spaceport. The study involved the research and identification of horizontal launch vehicles that may be capable of operating from the spaceport then analyzed the compatibility of Glasgow Prestwick Airport facilities against typical spaceport requirements. US FAA spaceport regulations and requirements were used as the baseline in the technical analysis. RS&H also developed a preliminary explosive site plan, airspace review, and environmental review to identify potential conflicts with existing aviation operations or other regulations. A ROM cost and schedule estimate was also prepared to baseline the development, and a Spaceport Terminal Concept was designed and rendered to showcase the potential of a Spaceport at Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

Key tasks of the project included:

  • Prestwick Spaceport Planning Charrette
  • US FAA licensing & regulations overview
  • Proposed launch vehicle discussion
  • Current infrastructure assessment
  • Airspace assessment
  • Explosive site plan
  • Environmental overview
  • Spaceport development activities
  • ROM cost & schedule development
  • Prestwick Spaceport Terminal Concept development & renderings
  • Preparation of study document

Space Coast Regional Airport Spaceport Feasibility Study

RS&H completed an expedited technical feasibility study of Space Coast Regional Airport to evaluate its ability to support spaceport operations for horizontal reusable launch vehicles, a system capable of launching a vehicle into space more than once.

The airport was competing with several other airports and spaceports to bring a new commercial launch operator to its site. The results of the study enabled the airport to identify key spaceport requirements, as well as potential operational areas within the airport. Potential vehicles will be able to use existing flight corridors available in the Eastern Range, a rocket range that supports missile and rocket launches.

To assess the technical feasibility of spaceport operations at the airport, RS&H conducted a number of analyses including:

  • Spaceport Goals and Objectives
  • Preliminary Explosive Site Plan Analysis
  • Preliminary Airspace Analysis and Review of Potential Flight Corridors 

In addition to conducting the analysis, RS&H provided technical support during the initial pre-application consultation meeting with the FAA Office of Commercial Space. RS&H is continuing to work with Space Coast Regional Airport on the subsequent phase, which includes the technical aspects and environmental aspects associated with obtaining a launch site operator license.

Ellington Field Spaceport Feasibility Study

RS&H prepared a technical feasibility study for the Houston Airport System to evaluate the potential of developing Ellington Field as a commercial spaceport. To assess the technical feasibility of spaceport operations at the airport, RS&H conducted a number of analyses, including:

  • Development of Spaceport Goals and Objectives
  • Development of Preliminary Explosive Site Plan Analysis
  • Development of Preliminary Airspace Analysis and Review of Potential Flight Corridors
  • Development of Preliminary Environmental Review
  • Assessment of Facility and Infrastructure  

In addition, to the study, RS&H provided Houston Airport System with a Rough Order-of-Magnitude Estimate of costs and schedule for several options related to spaceport development. The results of the study have allowed the Houston Airport System to take a structured and measured approach to planning and licensing the airport as a spaceport.

Multivehicle Launch Pad Space Launch Complex 46

RS&H designed Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for the Spaceport Florida Authority (now Space Florida) to uniquely accommodate a range of launch vehicle families from three different launch companies.

This was the first launch facility in the world that is not specifically limited to only one vehicle configuration. The adjustable RS&H design supported a variety of vehicle diameters and heights for stacking, integration, and pre-launch servicing.  

This was a dual-use facility shared by both Spaceport Florida for commercial launches and the US Navy for military launches. As both groups utilize the same flame deflector and launch mount, the design allows for the rapid retraction of one user’s facilities to accommodate the rapid deployment of another. Considerable planning and concept development were required to accommodate the requirements of all the involved parties, including state agencies, federal agencies, commercial users, and the military.  

Cost and time expenditures were conserved by the depth and variety of experience that RS&H brought to the project. The firm’s experience in evaluating potential options was a significant factor in reducing both design and construction costs. The resultant application of RS&H’s expertise is a low-cost, time-tested design, efficient construction, and the world’s first multivehicle, multi-user commercial/military launch pad.

Cecil Field Spaceport

RS&H has worked closely with the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) throughout the entire process of planning and developing Cecil Spaceport.

Spaceport Licensing and Environmental Assessment
We prepared the documentation and Environmental Assessment (EA) in support of JAA’s application to obtain a launch site operator license with the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation. The effort resulted in both a Findings of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the EA and the issuance of the license, allowing JAA to operate the launch site. JAA can now offer Cecil Airport as a commercial launch site to operators with horizontally launched, suborbital, and reusable launch vehicles. 

Spaceport Master Plan
RS&H also prepared a Master Plan to guide the future development of the spaceport. The plan maximizes the ability of Cecil Airport to host both aviation operations and commercial spaceport operations on the airfield with minimal interference between the two operations. 

Alabama Spaceport Feasibility Study

The State of Alabama is investigating the possibility of the Huntsville International Airport becoming a landing site for space transportation vehicles. RS&H assessed the technical feasibility of the airport as a reentry site. RS&H provided consultation for the FAA licensing process, runway assessment, explosive site plan, and a review of environmental impacts associated with the proposed landing route.

Spaceport Master Plan for the State of Florida

RS&H prepared a comprehensive statewide Spaceport Master Plan for Space Florida. As part of the effort, we completed a statewide facilities assessment of space transportation infrastructure, analyzed the current space transportation market, conducted a capacity analysis based on existing capabilities, and developed a plan for modernizing and expanding space transportation in the state.

Other areas of the master plan included plans to modernize facilities, implementation and funding strategies, interagency coordination, and more.

With the plan completed, Space Florida has been able to advocate for funding to improve space transportation in Florida.