Commercial spacecraft gets approval to land at Huntsville airport

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Rocket City will serve as a landing spot for commercial space vehicles.

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Huntsville International Airport in northern Alabama received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate as a commercial space reentry site, WHNT-TV reported.

The approval from the FAA opens the door for the Dream Chaser spaceplane to land in Huntsville.

“Huntsville has propelled us into another historic first for our state with the award of the commercial space vehicle reentry license for Huntsville International Airport,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement. “We appreciate the collaboration exhibited by our public and private partners to make this a reality.”

Dream Chaser, built by Sierra Nevada Corporation, is a space utility vehicle designed to transport crew and cargo to destinations such as the International Space Station, WAFF-TV reported.

“The landing of Dream Chaser at Huntsville International Airport is part of a vision for economic development that continues our legacy in space science and taps into our workforce expertise and assets developed for the International Space Station,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said in a statement.

NASA awarded Sierra Space six missions to resupply the ISS, according to the television station. The Dream Chaser could begin landing in Huntsville as soon as 2023, WAFF reported.

The FAA approved eight reentry operations from 2023 to 2027, all with Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser, WAAY-TV reported

The FAA says that Sierra Space or any other space vehicle operator will have to apply for their own licenses to operate out of Huntsville, WHNT reported.

“This community passed the test. It’s not just Huntsville International Airport, it’s this whole community,” Mark McDaniel, the chairman of the board of directors for the Huntsville International Airport, told WAAY. “It has been years in the making, but the Rocket City has finally passed the test. “It’s a dream, and it’s so big, and that’s what’s so exciting about it today.”

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