MOLINE, Ill. – New efforts could help Illinois pave the way for space travel from the Quad Cities region to infinity and beyond.
The Quad Cities International Airport in Moline, Illinois, is conducting a study to determine if it can support a commercial spaceport.
Spaceports are critical for space exploration and commercial spaceflight activities. They could be used for launching rockets, landing spacecraft, satellite deployment, research, and tourism.
Planning for a spaceport could take decades, but space tourism is expected to grow in the 21st century. NPR Illinois reports that airport is considering a “horizontal launch” site, and only 10 such spaceports have been licensed by the FAA.
“With a limited number of certificates being issued for spaceports, we want to seize the opportunity while it exists,” reads a Quad Cities airport blog. It may sound a little silly, but [we] believe it’s short-sighted to think we’ve reached the peak of aviation.”
The envisioned spaceport would be roughly three and a half hours west of Chicago and four hours north of St. Louis, but it could be a vital resource for both metros. Some lawmakers say it could be an economic boost for not only the Quad Cities region, but the whole Midwest.
Nexstar affiliate WHBF reports the study to determine spaceport prospects is being funded through a $283,500 grant, 90% from the Illinois Department of Transportation. Traffic at the airport has reportedly reached record levels in recent months as well.