Is a Spaceport Coming to Alabama?

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By Ashley Thompson

The Alabama Senate passes a bill that could bring what's called a Spaceport to Alabama.

Senator Gerald Dial of Lineville, who sponsored the bill says he wants Alabama to be the center for space travel in the southeast.

Huntsville has long been known for its' space exploration and NASA related programs. As a result, the city has seen tourism and economic opportunity increase. Now, Senator Dial wants even more space activity in Alabama. He's behind a bill that would work to get Alabama a Spaceport, a launching site for missiles and rockets.

"We can become in Alabama what Atlanta has become in airport, we can become that in spaceport," says Dial.

Other elected officials are also backing the space authority bill including Lt. Governor Kay Ivey who says a spaceport could increase economic opportunity for the state. Ivey tells us she believes space tourism, which would allow anyone the opportunity to go into space, is also a possibility.

"A spaceport authority is another economic development that gives us another opportunity for private folks or commercial people," says Ivey. "Private folks that have resources may want to put up something that takes them into outer space. Private sector may want to put up satellites."

But not everyone is in favor of space tourism. Some people we spoke with say lawmakers should focus on other issues.

"I think it's a pointless endeavor," says Montgomery resident Rey Rodriguez Diaz. "Space tourism is getting a whole bunch of people to pay to go into space but what is there to see in space? There's stars and the moon and you can see all that on a good camping trip to the mountains."

Others agree.

"For those who want to be scientists or astronauts, yes I can see that," says Malcolm Berry of Alabama State University. "But as of right now, in order to get children up there, we have to help them here first."

Political Analyst Steve Flowers says he believes the bill would only benefit Alabama and says our state is a prime location for a spaceport.

"Most people are not aware of the fact that we in Alabama are one of the leading states as far as space exploration because of the NASA development in Huntsville."

We're told no tax dollars would be used to bring a spaceport to Alabama. It would be privately funded.

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David Powell said on Friday, May 3 at 8:59 AM

Why not? It is certainly in the Southern U.S., and being farther to the south gives some benefits on launches into orbit, as far as speed boost from rotation as you get closer to the equator. Of course Florida already has Cape Canaveral, but if the private space business needs another spaceport, why not Huntsville, which has the base of technical people and facilities to do it? Finally, being a bit further south at Cape Canaveral may save a bit on launch costs, but there are other ways to do that in private spaceflight, lower taxes, different regulations, etc. could also save, a consideration not made in the 1950s and 1960s when the Government alone was doing spaceflight. This could be interesting. If someone wants to compete with Dragon, or with Burt Rutan & Richard Branson, Alabama could work for them.

Lea said on Friday, May 3 at 11:30 AM

Ashley Thompson, I would suggest you re-upload this article and get rid of the apostrophe on "known for its' space exploration". It puts a nasty smudge on an otherwise nice article. I spent many years living in Huntsville, and Alabama really has done great things for spaceflight. It's amazing how much of the US doesn't realize that. I think AL should certainly get a little more of a shout out, especially if it's via private investors.

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