Hawaii is one step closer to having a spaceport after the state legislature approved funding for the relevant applications to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The state, heavily dependent on tourism, hopes to stimulate a new form of tourism to the islands.
"The legislature recognizes that expanding the State's tourism product by developing new niche products, such as space tourism, can enhance Hawaii's appeal as a tourist destination," says SB112, the bill authorising funding.
While details of the application have yet to be firmed, proposals for a spaceport and point-to-point suborbital spaceflight have been in planning stages. As such the application is likely to include two airports, Kona International Airport on the main island, Hawaii, and Kalaeloa Airport on the island of Oahu.
A number of state-sponsored spaceports have gained FAA approval, including Cecil Field in northeastern Florida and Spaceport America in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Some have won FAA grants to facilitate spaceport development. As yet, only a handful of approved spaceports have hosted launches into space, but many states are eagerly eyeing the field. Spaceports are politically popular in part because they attract high-salary, high-technology jobs to remote and often economically disadvantaged areas.
"We have no applications pending at the moment. We're in pre-application status with a number of areas, which we can't really discuss," says the FAA.