Wild Spaceport Plans

Crazy futuristic plans are revealed for Houston's new spaceport — and officials insist it's happening

Crazy futuristic plans are revealed for Houston's new spaceport

Houston Spaceport at Ellington Field rendering 1
Note the cool sub-orbital plane to the left Rendering courtesy of Houston Airport System
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Spaceport with blue monorail line in foreground Rendering courtesy of Houston Airport System
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The City of Houston has eyes for commercial space flight with a proposed new facility at Ellington Airport. Rendering courtesy of Houston Airport System
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Proposed aviation museum Rendering courtesy of Houston Airport System
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Another view of the 450-acre complex . . . with the blue monorail Rendering courtesy of Houston Airport System
Houston Spaceport at Ellington Field rendering 3
Rendering courtesy of Houston Airport System
Houston Spaceport at Ellington Field rendering 5
Rendering courtesy of Houston Airport System
Houston Spaceport at Ellington Field rendering 2
Rendering courtesy of Houston Airport System
Houston Spaceport at Ellington Field rendering 1
Houston Spaceport at Ellington Field rendering 7
Houston Spaceport at Ellington Field rendering 4
Houston Spaceport at Ellington Field rendering 6
Houston Spaceport at Ellington Field rendering 8
Houston Spaceport at Ellington Field rendering 3
Houston Spaceport at Ellington Field rendering 5
Houston Spaceport at Ellington Field rendering 2

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 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.

During a March press conference, Diaz described a journey along the edge of space. At speeds as high as Mach 4, Houstonians could fly to Malaysia in less than three hours and to Sweden in 90 minutes.