HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Alabama's new Spaceport Authority is up and running.
The group was formed by recent legislation. The Authority's first meeting was held Tuesday in Huntsville at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
Senator Gerald Dial was nominated as the committee's chair during its initial organizational gathering. Dial believes Alabama would be the perfect spot for a spaceport. For years, he's been one of the lawmakers pushing the idea for an official group to help look at the state's viability.
During the 2017 legislative session, Senator Dial and Representative Howard Sanderford of Madison sponsored legislation that created the Alabama Spaceport Authority to promote the research and development of the aerospace and aviation industries in Alabama.
"For years, we've been working on trying to create a Spaceport Authority to look at the possibility if Alabama might be in line to be a spaceport for the future," said Dial. "That bill passed the legislation last year with the great help of Representative Howard Sanderford and now we're up here for the organizational session with that committee that going to begin to put together the process to see if we can move forward and see if it's possible to put a spaceport in Alabama," Dial explained Tuesday.
Dial says in the future, people will use space travel just like they go to airports now.
"A spaceport is what the Atlanta airport hub is to air transportation now," he stated. "Somebody is going to get a spaceport and why shouldn't it be Alabama? We've been the leader in space for all these years. Why shouldn't it be Alabama, and why shouldn't we have a spaceport, and why shouldn't be the next great hub of industry and excitement in this state?"
Kenneth Boswell is the Director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA). He calls the venture a possible "new frontier."
"With the president signing the new bill that may look at putting man back on the moon, it's one of the things that the state needs to be very proactive with and make sure that we do everything we can as Alabamians to be in that forefront to take advantage of that," said Boswell.
The Spaceport Authority will advocate for activities and industries specifically related to space exploration. It's housed within ADECA.
"We have a unique opportunity to become as relevant in the commercial space industry as we are in the automotive industry. We have proven time and time again that we have can develop the workforce necessary for any endeavor," Senator Dial said. "The long-term economic impact of having a Spaceport in Alabama will rival the economic effect that seaports and airports have had."
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