ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Colorado Air and Space Port announced Tuesday it has partnered with PD Aerospace of Japan to explore possible development and expansion including eventual space travel. A letter of intent was signed by both parties.

“Absolutely, it will happen,” Vicky Lea said about tourism beyond earth, the Director of Aerospace and Aviation for the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation.

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Colorado has been called “Aerospace Alley” by some in the industry and leaders with the county believe this latest agreement will help to earn that name and keep the field deeply rooted in the state. The announcement comes less than a year after Colorado got approval from the FAA to pursue a spaceport.

“Our goal is manned flight for Space Tourism,” Shuji Ogawa said in a video release, CEO of the company.

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Founded in 2007, the company has multiple locations in Japan focused on aerospace manufacturing as well as research and development. Ogawa went on to say that in addition to space tourism, his company hopes to have unmanned flights as a first step, as well as launching satellites, before sending people into space.

PD Aerospace is working to reach the testing phase of its space vehicle. It has the backing of multiple corporations in Japan including All Nippon Airways (ANA).

“This letter of intent is a key component in building relationships with aerospace companies across the globe and for Adams County to provide a launch site,” Dave Ruppel said in a news release, Director of the Colorado Air and Space Port. “Colorado has been coined ‘Aerospace Alley,’ and partnerships like this ensure it will remain a major destination for this industry.”

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Located at the former Front Range Airport in Watkins, the Colorado Air and Space Port is a spaceport accommodating vehicles making horizontal takeoffs and landings. The FAA issued C.A.S.P., a site operator’s license, last August. Renderings of the presence PD Aerospace could have at the site already suggest the development planned by the company.

It is still unclear when they would start building their facilities in Colorado. But leaders from the company are expected to visit the location this summer to explore their options.

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“Colorado Air and Space Port also has the added advantage of being in close proximity to an existing air and space hub.”

The FAA issued operator’s licenses for several spaceports in 2018 and the business community believes that securing this letter from PD Aerospace highlights the desire for this industry to come to the state.

“It’s a sign that Colorado Air and Space Port has a facility that appeals,” Lea told CBS4. “That can offer the services, the kind of infrastructure, that companies that are developing these cutting edge, next generation space plans are going to need.”

Shawn Chitnis

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