ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – As commercial space flight takes off, Colorado is hoping it won’t be far behind. The Colorado Air and Space Port in Watkins is gaining more companies interested in making money in space.
“That’s one of the exciting things, as you look at the technologies coming onboard. The opportunity to have space vehicles of taking off from runways to space. That’s a capability that will be a game changer,” said David Rupel the Director of the Colorado Air and Space Port.
Three companies are signed up and working toward making a home at the facility southeast of Denver International Airport. A British based company has called the space port home for years.
“We’re really grateful to be out here. To test our technology, it’s really hard to test parts of an engine that are meant to fly faster than any aircraft has flown,” said Adam Dissel, the President of Reaction Engines Incorporated.
Reaction Engines is trying to make a hypersonic engine that can propel a reusable aircraft to Mach 5, or a mile per second. Dissel knows it’s a lofty, long-term goal.
“We find a lot of benefit toward being in Colorado because there’s such an aerospace presence. Both from a talent standpoint and breathe from the industry that is present.”
Officials in Adams County are hoping within the next few years the Japanese company PD Aerospace and New Zealand’s Dawn Aerospace both establishing operations in Colorado.
Dawn is hoping to have a reusable ship deliver small payloads into space. PD’s goal is commercial space travel.
“The one thing that links them all together is that they’re all working on horizontal launch type vehicles,” Ruppel said. “Part of what we do as a space port is work with them. Who do you need to talk to in the State Department? Who do you need to talk to within the FAA? To get that licensing in place so you can have those opportunities in the United States.”
Only 11 other space ports are licensed for operation in the United States.
Colorado officials are hoping for the well-established aerospace industry in the state will help attract more companies and provide even more growth.
“There are going to be spacecraft taking off from these runways in the not-too-distant future,” said Ruppel.