Paso Robles votes to explore developing a spaceport at the Municipal Airport
With Vandenberg Space Force Base investing in space-related technological advancements, the City of Paso Robles is now hoping to capitalize on the growing global commercial space transportation industry by exploring the idea of building a spaceport at the city's Municipal Airport.
At Tuesday's city council meeting, the council gave a unanimous green light for the city to submit a pre-application for a spaceport license.
“I get two reactions from folks wherever I talk about this," Mayor Steve Martin said. "The first one is, 'Huh?!' The second is 'Oooh.' The reason for the second reaction is because we are looking at the future of the future.”
There are only 12 licensed Spaceports in the US — and only one in California, located in the Mojave Desert.
“We are not talking about putting a big rocket in the middle of Paso Robles, launching it from there and shaking us all everyday,” said Paul Sloan, the economic development manager for Paso Robles.
Sloan said the spaceport would be used for horizontal launches, similar to a private jet taking off and landing, and that there are no sonic booms associated with horizontal launches.
Sloan said a spaceport could also open the door to attracting high-paying, tech-related jobs in space research and development.
Some in the public meeting, like resident Nancy Mellow, expressed concerns over potential noise these jets could bring.
“The idea sounds interesting," Mellow said. "But my concern is also the exhaust and all the stuff that comes out of the jets, what is it going to do with our air quality?”
Sloan said the potential negative impacts will come to light through the application process once environmental and developmental studies can be conducted.
Mayor Martin said this license could bring an economic boom for the city.
"For 40 years now we have been saying we have an airport that is a diamond in the rough, and looking for a way to polish that diamond up," Martin said. "We have the chance to actually putting that polish on our airport.”