When you think of satellite launching sites, you might first think of Florida. Now you can add Mid-Michigan to that list.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas announced the results of the eight month site-selection process to determine the best location for a horizontal space launch facility in Michigan.
And Oscoda, in northeast lower Michigan, topped the list of eight potential sites.
Stamas helped finalize a $2 million supplemental appropriation for fiscal year 2019 for a state grant to assess the feasibility of developing one or more low Earth orbit launch sites and command center. The project is known as the Michigan Launch Initiative and has been developed by the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association (MAMA).
The Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport received the highest ranking because of its runway infrastructure, business capacity, operational strength, and safety track record, according to MAMA.
“This is an exciting next step in the process of developing Michigan’s ecosystem of space technology,” said Gavin Brown, executive director of MAMA. “While much work lies ahead, we are pleased to share these initial results from our due diligence. Such a facility would solidify Michigan’s leadership role in the aerospace and defense industry while becoming an important economic catalyst.”
The site will support space-launch facilities and manage commercial satellite operations.
Michigan’s aerospace industry is robust. There are 280 companies certified as aerospace manufacturers with another 600 Michigan companies that support those companies. It’s estimated the aerospace industry currently has a $1.2 billion impact on Michigan’s economy.
"Part of what we're trying to do is if you look at our rich history in automotive, our next wave is going to be the autonomous vehicle. We want Michigan and Michigan people leading that drive to put the communication systems up north in the satellite system so that the autonomous vehicles, that electric cars can actually then be truly autonomous,” said Gavin Brown, executive director for MAMA.
MAMA will continue its site-selection process for a command center and vertical launch site.