The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center awarded Alabama-based Aevum Inc. a $4.9 million contract to launch small satellites to low Earth orbit from Cecil Spaceport.
The initial launch is scheduled for the third quarter of 2021. With the award, Aevum will expand its operations into Jacksonville.
Aevum plans to add 10 to 30 jobs in Jacksonville, and is deciding whether to build a facility or lease space.
The contract is for the Agile Small Launch Operational Normalizer 45 space mission, which will provide orbital launch services in support of the Department of Defense Space Test Program to improve the department’s real-time threat warnings.
“Aevum’s selection of Cecil Spaceport as the first spaceport for autonomous launch and space logistics operations comes after an extensive evaluation process of all FAA-licensed spaceports that began in 2017,” said Aevum CEO Jay Skylus in a statement.
“Right from the start, my team and I were thoroughly impressed by Cecil Spaceport’s readiness for launch operations. After completing the competitive RFP (request for proposals) process with top spaceports, Cecil Spaceport was a clear winner for us,” Skylus said.
Aevum is the second company to enter into an operating agreement with the Jacksonville Aviation Authority, which owns and operates Cecil Airport and Cecil Spaceport. Atlanta-based Generation Orbit was the first to sign a tenant agreement at the spaceport in 2013.
JAA CEO Mark Van Loh said in the release that bringing Aevum to Cecil Spaceport “validates Jacksonville’s position as an emerging player in the space industry.”
In 2010, Cecil Spaceport became the first on the East Coast to be authorized as a horizontal liftoff spaceport by the Federal Aviation Administration. The spaceport has yet to see its first launch.
In July, JAA announced it would build a new air traffic control center and spaceport operations center by 2021. The spaceport operation center will house telemetry, mission control and weather monitoring equipment.