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ASTRO Act would award funding to spaceports, protect American space exploration

Rebecca Barnabi
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The Alleviating Spaceport Traffic by Rewarding Operators (ASTRO) Act would award funding to spaceports with proven track records of launches, protecting and promoting America’s strategic, military and commercial interests in space exploration while supporting local economies surrounding spaceports.

The legislation would also support spaceports across the United States and unleash investment in space and addressing the concern of spaceport bottleneck.

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner of Virginia and Dan Sullivan of Arkansas introduced the legislation before Thanksgiving.

“Space is an incredibly critical frontier for the next generation of America’s strategic needs and economic growth,” Warner said. “The ASTRO Act would solve a pressing need by allowing successful spaceports to rapidly scale their operations, unleashing the potential for more frequent launches and paving the way for breakthroughs across the cosmos.”

America faces a severe and worsening “spaceport bottleneck” as the need for space launch facilities vastly outstrips supply, creating very high demand on a small number of facilities. The ASTRO Act would get non-federal spaceports the resources they need to build transit infrastructure and quickly increase launch capacity and cadence. Under the ASTRO Act, spaceports would receive $250,000 for each licensed launch and $100,000 for each permitted launch up to $2.5 million annually, promoting investment in spaceports that already have a record of successful launches.

“America’s spaceports are facing increasing demand for launch services,” Sullivan said.  “As one of four sites in the United States with a demonstrated ability to vertically launch objects into orbit, the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Kodiak Island plays a key role in providing American access to space, and also providing much-needed missiles to our allies, like Israel. The ASTRO Act is a critical step towards strengthening our space launch capabilities and will allow for needed infrastructure developments that will help bolster our national security, and propel our nation’s space ambitions for generations to come.”

Spaceports across the nation would be eligible for funding, including the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island, Virginia, and the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.