Airport authorities give new timeline for Cecil Spaceport

By Staci Spanos - Reporter/anchor, Jim Piggott - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Jacksonville could be one step closer to launching rockets.

Jacksonville Aviation Authority CEO Steve Grossman told News4Jax on Monday that rocket launches could be coming to Cecil Airport by the end of this year or early next year. 

"We have a commercial space operator who wants to use Cecil Spaceport for all their operations," Grossman said. "We have issued them an operating permit, we believe the first one in the country, for a horizontal launch spaceport. The company's called Generation Orbit."

The company is headquartered in Atlanta, but will conduct its operations out of Jacksonville. 

They won't be vertical rocket launches, such as the ones in Cape Canaveral. Grossman explained how the horizontal launches work.

"It's basically a business jet that they have mounted an 8- to 12-foot rocket underneath," he said. "They take off, fly out at 50,000 feet, drop rocket and ignite it and it'll take several nanosatellites -- they're the size of softballs -- up into low earth orbit."

The company has already completed test runs in Jacksonville.

If this launch takes place, Grossman said, Jacksonville could be the first official horizontal spaceport in the country. 

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