Commercial Spaceport Licensing

RS&H is a leader in developing documentation for commercial spaceport licensing, assisting airports in positioning themselves to take advantage of future horizontal launch/recovery operations by commercial spacecraft. This formative industry combines RS&H’s extensive knowledge of launch infrastructure requirements with its experience in airport planning. Merging these two industries is complicated by a regulatory environment that is constantly changing.

RS&H emphasizes the lessons learned in previous projects when preparing spaceport licensing documents. While federal regulations are in place that outline the requirements, meeting those requirements is a constantly evolving effort as the industry and the FAA refine their approach to this emerging field.

Here are just some of RS&H’s commercial spaceport licensing projects:

Cecil Airport is owned and operated by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) as a general aviation and aviation business related airport. JAA requested RS&H to prepare a Launch Site Operator License application and accompanying Environmental Assessment. After the successful application, JAA requested RS”&H to prepare a Commercial Spaceport Master Plan – the first of its kind in the nation at a public airport. The Cecil Spaceport Master Plan analyzed priorities for developing the spaceport facilities while minimizing impact on aviation operations and created a phasing plan and cost estimates for each of the various improvements. The improvements were planned to allow a return on JAA’s investment, minimize adverse impact to the surrounding community, and provide a roadmap for identifying and creating a viable commercial spaceport.

Ellington Airport is one of three major airports operated by the Houston Airport Systems (HAS) and is a busy general aviation airport that also supports operations by the military and NASA. The Airport’s proximity to Johnson Space Center in Houston has fostered a long-term connection with the US space industry and is the place where many astronauts receive their ongoing space training. RS&H was selected to provide spaceport consulting services to assess the technical feasibility of Ellington Airport to host commercial space operations. When the feasibility study returned favorable results, HAS contracted with RS&H to prepare a license application and accompanying Environmental Assessment.

Space Coast Regional Airport (TIX) is a general aviation airport in Titusville, Florida, that is located directly across the Intracoastal Waterway from the Shuttle Landing Facility at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Titusville-Cocoa Airport Authority retained RS&H to conduct a feasibility study to determine whether TIX is a viable candidate to receive a Commercial Launch Site Operator License. Following the feasibility study, RS&H was commissioned to develop the complete Launch Site Operator License application and assist in the complementary Environmental Assessment.

RS&H was tasked by Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) and the Huntsville-Montgomery County Airport Authority to develop licensing and Environmental Assessment documentation in support of at Reentry License Application that would enable SNC to land its Dream Chaser reentry vehicle at Huntsville International Airport. This project required close coordination among RS&H, SNC, and Airport staff to ensure the licensing efforts by both entities were consistent.

The Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission requested RS&H to explore the potential for spaceport operations at Stennis International Airport, a general aviation airport adjacent to a key NASA test facility in southern Mississippi. RS&H conducted an initial feasibility study, followed by the development of a license application and accompanying Environmental Assessment.

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