OCTOBER 4-5, 2018


We are at the dawn of a new commercial space flight era – from space tourism and micro-gravity research to biomedical research and planetary exploration. Spacecraft are capable of flying beyond the atmosphere into the nearest reaches of outer space and returning to Earth within hours. Like airports before them, spaceports will facilitate new forms of connectivity, this time on an interplanetary scale, resulting in an aerospace revolution.

Commercial spaceports will incorporate airport infrastructure specific to space flight, such as loading pods and longer runways, as well as special aerospace terminal facilities like space flight training centers. The spaceport will be the first stop for anyone going into space and the terminal’s design and program should reflect the excitement and mystery of space travel. Faced with increasingly crowded skies, spaceport design will also need to incorporate changes in regulations, technology, air traffic control and planning.

AERIAL FUTURES: The Next Frontier investigates the emerging commercial human space flight market and the opportunities spaceports provide as catalysts for disruptive innovation in technology and mobility. Spaceports will kick-start a very different space transportation industry from the one we have today, enabling greater supply for humans and cargo to access space. This addition to the transportation industry, and the support of spacecraft and space stations, will add to the regional economy and encourage job growth.

Expanding Houston’s reputation as Space City, USA, the Houston Airport System (HAS) was awarded a license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2015 to convert Ellington Airport into the 10th commercial spaceport in the United States – the Houston Spaceport. With the most urban-centered spaceport to date, HAS is on its way to becoming a cosmic aviation hub – an ecosystem of multimodal ports capable of handling conventional, supersonic and space planes. Unlike existing, isolated spaceports, Houston Spaceport will coexist with the existing urban fabric, making the city one of the most connected in the world. Additionally, this new spaceport has implications for real estate and urban development in its surrounding land.

As the market for human space travel grows, spaceport operations will become a massive source of revenue. AERIAL FUTURES: The Next Frontier asks how commercial space operations and spaceports will promote economic generation and disrupt urban development impact in the 21st century.



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