JAA seeks permits for new Cecil air traffic control tower, spaceport

Applications and plans describe the 11-story combined control tower and spaceport shell.

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  • | 5:20 a.m. September 5, 2018
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The Jacksonville Aviation Authority applied for $8.1 million in permits to construct an air traffic control tower and spaceport shell for the Cecil Spaceport at Cecil Airport in West Jacksonville.

The applications and plans describe the 11-story combined control tower and spaceport shell at 13365 Simpson Way.

Plans from engineering and consulting firm RS&H Inc. show office space, a conference room and spaceport shell on the first level. 

The almost 119-foot-tall tower includes the octagon-shaped air traffic control room at the top of the structure with 360-degree views.

The complex comprises a total floor area of 9,444 square feet of enclosed space.

JAA also submitted a permit application to make alterations and repairs to part of an existing facility at a cost of $20,000. 

JAA also applied to the St. Johns River Water Management District. Those documents show construction is expected to take 18-19 months.

The 45-day first phase includes construction of temporary structures, traffic control devices, security fencing mobilization and procurement. 

The bulk of construction, comprising approximately 472 calendar days, is dedicated to building utility connections, new site access and improvements and construction of the air traffic control center and spaceport shell. 

Cleanup and further demolition of existing facilities on the site is expected to take around 2½ months after major construction is completed. 

JAA is one of six agencies in the U.S. approved to build and operate a spaceport for horizontal launches. The Cecil site is the only commercial spaceport in development on the East Coast, and is in a race to become the first such facility to launch a commercial spacecraft in the United States.  

The Federal Aviation Authority approved the spaceport in 2010. 

In June, Atlanta-based Generation Orbit Launch Services completed a liquid rocket engine test ahead of the spaceport’s first planned launch in 2019 or 2020. 

The first payloads are likely to be small satellites, although the authority also would like to eventually use the spaceport for space tourism activities. 

When completed, the spaceport will be to accommodate orbital and sub-orbital aircraft using a 12,500-by-200-foot primary runway.