Leasing Push Heats Up Around Houston's Spaceport
Space City is reaching for the stars again. Now that Houston's Spaceport application has been approved by the FAA's Office of Commercial Space Transportation, and Boeing has officially moved out, the Houston Airport System is full-throttle towards leasing over 600 acres.
Last year, the HAS spent $6.9M on the 53k SF office building that will house new Spaceport tenants. The building near NASA's Buoyancy Laboratory had been solely occupied by Boeing until the company relocated operations on July 31.
With Boeing officially out, Houston aerospace officials are ramping up efforts to land new tenants that will keep Houston at the forefront of all things space. On Aug. 11, the Spaceport's first tenant, Intuitive Machines, moved in, and began building unmanned aerial systems and drones for commercial use.
The Spaceport offers the first dedicated infrastructure for commercial space flight in Houston. The Houston Aerospace Support center features 53k SF of laboratory and office space, complete with co-working space for early stage companies. You won't find ping-pong tables or kegs here. Instead, amenities include a 23'5 hook crane, 25'1 roll-up door and two five-ton hook bridge cranes. The HASC also contains 17k SF of fully configurable office space allowing business to use the community's "hands-on" expertise to evolve projects from concept to execution.
Steven Gonzales, associate manager of the Strategic Partnership Office at the NASA/Johnson Space Center, tells Bisnow proximity to NASA's operations has an enormous benefit to organizations in the same tech space as NASA. There are many partnerships that work in NASA's own facilities, like the General Motors Robonaut program. Collaborating on similar problems, whether they be for commerce or space exploration, helps fuel innovation. "There's nothing like face-to-face conversation to be able to understand each other and come up with innovations," Steven says.
A number of companies are in talks to join the Spaceport, including Russian engineering company Progresstech, and the Japanese Government Space Industry and South Korean airport officials have expressed interest in partnering with Houston. The Spaceport also has a letter of intent from Sierra Nevada Corp, which plans to transport cargo to the ISS from the location, and Catapult Satellite Applications plans to lease space at the office complex.
Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership president Bob Mitchell tells us development of the Houston Spaceport is moving smoothly.
"We're working on a number of agreements that work perfectly into the commercial space model we're trying to create," he says. "We have three confidential projects that are close to decision, and if we land even one of them, we are on our way to achieve our goal. It will drive the future innovation and technology for this region and for America."
Houston hopes to showcase its Spaceport at the upcoming Spacecom, the largest dedicated space commerce event in the US. Over 1,700 attendees and exhibitors will fill GRBCC. With over 200 executives, 85 companies and 60 press in attendance, it will be a big moment for the Spaceport looking to draw in tenants. The conference will be held Nov. 15 to 17.
Houston will have to make a strong case for itself, as we're not the first city with a Spaceport. There are six US federal launch sites already, and eight functional Spaceports across the US. What we have that they don't: the Houston Spaceport's proximity to the urban center is a defining factor other Spaceports lack and a selling point for tenants.
Commercial space flights that depart from the Spaceport will head south, taking off using jet power. Once 60 miles offshore at approximately 40,000 feet, the rocket ignition will occur. The craft will ascend to what's known as low earth orbit before descending and landing using jet power or simply gliding. Orbital, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada are already blazing the path in commercial access to low Earth orbit.
"The possibilities are limited only by our imaginations," Michael Wagoner, an inspector with the Houston Airport System, told the Global Times. "A lot of what we're looking at is the same thing we had with the space shuttle, which is that you can take off from this airport and you can land at this airport. We're open to all possibilities."
And so is Houston.