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Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport top location for potential spaceport

The Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport has been chosen as the top candidate for a spaceport to launch satellites here in Michigan. Courtesy photo.

Sterling Heights, Michigan—The Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association announced last week findings from an initial site-selection process for a potential horizontal space launch site in Michigan.

The site-selection process, which was conducted over the past eight months, identified the Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport, built on a portion of the former Wurtsmith Air Force base, as the top candidate for a horizontal spaceport. The airport received the highest ranking because of its runway infrastructure, business capacity, operational strength and safety track record.

The announcement at the Michigan Capitol is the next step in the process of exploring Michigan’s ability to support space-launch facilities, a command and control center to manage commercial satellite operations and a space ecosystem.

 “This is an exciting next step in the process of developing Michigan’s ecosystem of space technology,” said Gavin Brown, executive director of MAMA. “While much work lies ahead, we are pleased to share these initial results from our due diligence. Such a facility would solidify Michigan’s leadership role in the aerospace and defense industry while becoming an important economic catalyst.”

In June 2019, the Michigan Legislature appropriated $2 million to assess the feasibility of developing one or more low-orbit launch sites in Michigan.

The Oscoda-Wurtsmith airport was among eight Michigan sites evaluated by MAMA and its spaceport expert Brian Gulliver from Kimley-Horn under the oversight of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Site submissions were evaluated on a variety of technical, economic and physical factors by MAMA and Gulliver, who has experience assisting spaceports all over the world.

This is an initial but important step in exploring whether Michigan can support a space ecosystem. MAMA will continue to conduct the feasibility study that will be submitted to the MEDC by the second quarter of this year. This will include having more site-specific discussions with governmental licensing and regulatory agencies, as well as partners in the commercial sector. In addition, MAMA will continue conducting a site-selection process for a command center and vertical launch site.

“The announcement of this first important step toward Oscoda becoming the official location for a horizontal spaceport is the news we had been hoping for,” said Rep. Sue Allor, who represents Iosco County. “Oscoda’s prime location and strong community are certainly deserving of this fantastic opportunity, and I will continue working with Sen. Stamas to ensure that we do what we can in Lansing to help make this plan a reality.”

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