Hand in hand with the new role of Front Range Airport as the home of Colorado’s first and only space airport, the almost 35-year-old general aviation facility received a new name on Monday: Colorado Air and Space Port.
The new nickname was unveiled at a solemn ceremony to celebrate the decision of the Federal Aviation Administration last week, a long-awaited site operator license, which awarded known since 2011 as Spaceport Colorado. A collection of Adams County officials, along with U.S. Reps. Ed Perlmutter, D-Arvada, and Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, were on hand to make remarks.
“This is a great first step, and there are many more to follow,” said Perlmutter.
With the operator’s license in hand, Colorado Air and Space Port is ready to be the launch and landing zone for a number of next-generation space planes that take off and land like normal jets, but rocket power once in flight use to zip scientists and travelers hundreds of thousands of miles into the suborbital space.
The flights could be used by companies using compact satellites, conducting micro-gravitation experiments or transporting space-curious tourists to the sky to experience weightlessness and a unique view 350,000 feet above the earth’s surface.
“I think the exploration of space and colonization of other planets is inevitable,” Adams County Commissioner Erik Hansen said in the County’s headquarters building Monday, where more than 100 people were present. “This is not the end — this ceremony is about the beginning.”
This is because the first launch of the spaceport dual 8,000-foot runways can be as far as 10 years away as aerospace companies like Airbus, Virgin Atlantic, Reaction Engines Ltd.and Rocketplane Global are working to design, build, test and certify their space planes for celestial travel.
Several speakers at the ceremony on Monday, noted that the space station, 8 miles Southeast of Denver International Airport in the vicinity of Watkins, will contribute to the state’s burgeoning aviation sector by attracting companies and world-class talent in the Region. Ron Sega, a systems engineering professor at the Colorado State University and former Space Shuttle astronaut, said the state’s existing aerospace muscle there is a leg as Colorado Air and Space Port will be the nation’s 11. licensed investment of its kind.
“This is a place with a very robust aerospace infrastructure and intellectual capital,” he said.