By Shawn Chitnis

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – County and state leaders celebrated the license granted to the Colorado Air and Space Port Monday as an opportunity to provide space travel and research in the region.

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“This is a big first step but obviously there are many more to come,” said Rep. Ed Permutter, a Democrat who represents Colorado’s 7th Congressional District.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (credit: CBS)

The spaceport is one of 11 locations in the country with the license given by the Federal Aviation Administration. The eventual goal is to create a hub for commercial use of space travel as well as research and development in the field. The hundreds of companies already in the state could become players at the site or new business may be attracted to Colorado because of the potential, according to county leaders.

“That’s who we are as a people, we explore. Space is next,” said Erik Larsen, an Adams County commissioner. “I believe that the exploration of space and the eventual colonization of other planets is inevitable.”

(credit: CBS)

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But the focus of the spaceport will be horizontal vehicles. Aircraft that takeoff and land like a traditional plane but can use rocket boosters to enter into suborbital flight. Rocket launches will not take place at this location.

The spaceport will take the place of the Front Range Airport, located near Denver International Airport. The plan released by the county explains special aircraft can enter airspace from the east of the property during designated times for flights.

Before any flights can take off, providing the dream of traveling around the world in a few hours rather than an entire day, investment needs to come into the facility. Operators will be selected and space vehicles must be approved for travel.

“I’m hoping it will really illuminate the size of Colorado’s aerospace economy,” said Barry Gore, president and CEO of Adams County Economic Development.

(credit: CBS)

“We’re about to take a huge leap in aviation.”

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Shawn Chitnis reports weeknights for CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Email him story ideas at and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.