Just the word spaceport fills the mind with images of bizarre aircraft, strange lights and other-worldly architecture . . . which is exactly what the Houston Airport System (HAS) has planned for its proposed makeover of sleepy Ellington Airport.
New renderings detail a futuristic travel scene straight out of Gattaca (hopefully without the creepy genetics). Huge stratospheric planes prep for takeoff next to airliners by real-life aerospace company Orbital. Passengers mill about a plaza decorated with vintage fighter jets. All the while, a high-speed monorail circles the complex on a strip of blue light.
“This is not a conversation based on science fiction or futuristic projections."
HAS aviation director Mario C. Diaz swears the images aren't far-fetched. In fact, the proposed 450-acre facility would be the nation's ninth licensed spaceport alongside established hubs like New Mexico's Spaceport America, which just signed a lease agreement with commercial aerospace giant SpaceX.
“It’s important to realize that this type of work is already taking place today,” Diaz says in a statement released with the renderings.
“This is not a conversation based on science fiction or futuristic projections. This is a conversation about how Houston can access and enhance an industry that is already well-established and growing exponentially.”
As opposed to many current spaceports, the Ellington facility has no plans for the vertical launches most of us associate with spaceflight. Instead, Houston's spaceport would host only orbital and sub-orbital launches primarily for long-distance earthbound travel.