Could Paso Robles host the country’s next spaceport?
The city of Paso Robles is eyeing the space industry.
She is currently working on a request to have her municipal airport designated as a spaceport. City officials say it could propel the local and regional economy and launch our nation further into space.
“We are the new pioneers of the new frontier of space,” said Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin.
In addition to a thriving tourism and wine industry, the city of Paso Robles sets its sights on space.
“The first reaction is kind of a question mark above their heads,” said Mayor Martin.
The city has owned the military grade airport since the 1970s. It has a 6,000 foot runway and is popular for general aviation.
“The people who own planes, the people who have corporate planes that fly indoors and out,” Martin said.
In the absence of regular airlines, this could also be the spaceport’s next location.
“When people think of a spaceport, they think of rockets taking off and big balls of fire and that’s not what we’re talking about here,” said Mayor Martin.
Instead of vertical launches like at Vandenberg Space Force Base, it could house horizontal launches.
“They could be 20 to 50 feet long and fly like an airplane or a jet would fly and they go up into low earth orbit and release their cargo which are small satellites,” said Paul Sloan, town of Paso Robles. Responsible for economic development.
The spacecraft then lands at the spaceport.
“So there’s no big launch. There’s no shutdown of any facility. It just operates like an airport like we’ve always done,” Martin said.
There are only 12 licensed spaceports in the United States, including one in California in the Mojave Desert.
“We want to be one of those because we want to work with those companies that capitalize on the economic development aspects of space travel in the future,” Martin said.
The idea is to build a technological corridor around the spaceport project bringing together different industries involved in space technology.
This could correspond to a significant number of jobs.
“From research and development to the manufacturer to actual operations,” Sloan said. “For every doctorate, you have 10 to 15 engineering and technician jobs.”
The city expects the application process, which is administered by the FAA, to take about a year.
Cube satellite technology was invented at Cal Poly about 20 years ago, so the city says this project will come full circle.
The project will also allow partnerships with the university which could help the airport to receive grants.