Houston: Space 2.0-City Council Approves Utilities for Houston Spaceport

Houston (Houston Chronicle by Andrea Leinfelder) – October 18, 2018 – City Council on Wednesday approved more than $18.8 million for the Houston Spaceport to begin developing streets, water, wastewater, electrical power distribution facilities and other basic infrastructure.

These are necessary to attract future development to Phase 1 of the Houston Spaceport, which is located at Ellington Airport. Officials are hoping to attract a cluster of aerospace companies that can invent, develop and manufacture space technologies.

“We have been talking about this project for now over two years,” said Arturo Machuca, the general manager of Ellington Airport and the Houston Spaceport. “This type of development requires a lot of work. … Now we are ready to move into a more finite offering to potential partners.”

He said the money reaffirms Houston’s commitment to developing a spaceport.

In 2016, the Houston Spaceport opened a 53,000-square-foot Houston Aerospace Support Center. Clear Lake-based Intuitive Machines was the first — and so far only — business to open a location there in August 2016. The Houston Spaceport almost landed a Blue Origin rocket engine manufacturing facility, but it ultimately lost out to Huntsville, Ala.

One reason for Houston being runner-up was that Huntsville already had an experienced rocket engine workforce. To fix this problem, Machuca said the Houston Spaceport is in talks with San Jacinto College to open a location at the spaceport and help create a pipeline of talent for future companies.

Construction in Phase 1 will also eventually include a co-working space near the Houston Aerospace Support Center.

The money approved for the project includes a $1 million federal grant. The remainder will be paid through Houston Airport System revenues.