Clear Lake Area Chamber gets Spaceport Update

Megan Johnston found herself surrounded by Clear Lake Chamber Directors Jonathan Cottrell, Doug Meisinger and Jacob Bigger, from left, as the chamber luncheon gets underway at the Clear Lake Hilton.

By Mary Alys Cherry

Ellington Airport General Manager Arturo Machuca is a busy man these days. Not only is there an airport to run, but there’s a Spaceport in the making.

And, there before him was a ballroom full of Clear Lake Area Chamber members waiting for an update from him during the chamber’s monthly luncheon at the Clear Lake Hilton.
Most remembered how Houston had received its license from the FAA to become the nation’s ninth spaceport back in June of 2015, but what was next?

Machuca explained that Ellington had already started on Phase 1 after the Houston City Council had approved spending $18.8 million to provide the ground level infrastructure – the streets, fiber optic and communication facilities, water, wastewater and electric power – to attract aviation and commercial space travel companies to the Houston Spaceport.
Meanwhile, several companies have expressed an interest in being a part of the spaceport. One or two look so promising Machuca could hardly keep from sharing the details. He said he is expecting to have some news very soon. Bay Are Houston Economic Partnership said recently that they are working with six companies interested in setting up operations at the Spaceport.

“Already there is Intuitive Machines developing lunar landing space systems and also testing propulsion machines,” he said. Intuitive Machines became the first Spaceport tenant and is already hard at work preparing to create its Nova-C lunar lander after receiving a $77.1 million NASA contract to send the spacecraft to the moon with a payload of experiments from the space agency and several private firms.

“These things take time,” he said, but as of now, “Everything is looking really good.”

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