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Federal Aviation Administration official tours Front Range Airport

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WATKINS — Adams County officials continued to make the pitch for a proposed spaceport Monday, May 19, as they welcomed Federal Aviation Administration Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation Dr. George Nield on a tour of Front Range Airport.

County Manager Todd Leopold and Commissioners Chaz Tedesco and Erik Hansen toured the facility with Nield, whose visit included “a tour of the current runways, hangars and vacant land designated for use with spaceport related infrastructure,” according to a news release from the county.

“I’m very impressed with the facility and the potential,” Dr. Nield said.

The airport is among six facilities in the application process for the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation program.  There are already eight licensed facilities across the nation.  

“Commercial space transportation has grown at an incredible pace,” said Dr. Nield.  “Ten years ago it was the space shuttle and it was the government operating.  Now we have two private companies operating, with many more in the development process.”

The Spaceport application process includes an environmental assessment, a safety evaluation and a business plan.  The evaluation, assessment and business plan were completed by the engineering firm HDR. 

“We are now in the final stages of the application process with the goal of final submission in the middle of 2014,” said Adams County Economic Development Manager Kristin Sullivan.  “Dr. Nield’s visit was important as we negotiate the final challenges of the application process.”

Once the application is finalized and submitted, FAA officials will have 180 days to evaluate the application and issue a ruling.