LANSING, MICH. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers and aerospace officials are hoping a former military base might become a space facility where public and private industries could launch satellites and tourists into space.
Wurtsmith Airport was selected as the potential site. A group of legislators and the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturing Association announced the selection Tuesday at the state Capitol, the Detroit Free Press reported.
The airport stopped operating as an Air Force base in 1993.
“People don't realize how strong the aerospace industry is," said association president Gavin Brown. "I call it the third coast and we should be participating, not just the Pacific and Atlantic states."
The facility in northern Michigan would be used primarily to launch satellites into low orbit.
Republican state Sen. Jim Stamas said the possibility of a space launch facility in Michigan could be a way to diversify the state’s economy.
“I think it's extremely exciting," Stamas said. "If you also look at the community that has been so supportive of our national defense in the past, and is still ready to continue to move forward with future technologies, I think it's a great opportunity for not only them but all of Michigan."
There are currently 12 launch facilities licensed around the country. Brown said the airport could also be used for space tourism.
“We won’t be doing manned space flights," Brown said. “But tourism companies have different type of vehicles that will take them into orbit. ... We are in discussion with another company that could take people into suborbital space."