In 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration granted a license to the Houston Airport System to operate a commercial spaceport at Ellington Field. The Houston Spaceport is the third licensed spaceport in Texas (Midland and Cameron County each have a spaceport) and will be used for astronaut training, zero gravity experimentation, spacecraft manufacturing, and launching microsatellites.
Only spaceport development corporations created under the auspices of state law are eligible to receive funding from the Spaceport Trust Fund. During the 86th Legislature, House Bill 303 passed which allows a sole municipality (City of Houston) to create a spaceport development corporation and be eligible to draw funds from the Spaceport Trust Fund.
In the 87th session, the Trusteed Programs Within the Office of the Governor in Strategy C.1.1, Create Jobs and Promote Texas, was appropriated $10,000,000 in General Revenue in fiscal year 2022 to be transferred to the Spaceport Trust Fund.
The Houston Airport System is forming a spaceport development corporation in accordance with Local Government Code Title 12 Chapter 507 Spaceport Development Corporations. The new entity will be called the Houston Spaceport Development Corporation (HSDC) and will be eligible to compete with Cameron County and Brownsville Spaceport Development Corporations for eligible and approved infrastructure projects to enhance each respective spaceport.
The call for proposals must be initiated by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism at a time of its choosing. Approved projects may be awarded up to 25% matching grant funds from the Governor’s Office, payable via reimbursable agreement with the respective spaceport development corporation.
The Houston Airport System recently completed a $20M infrastructure project at Houston Spaceport to attract new entrants and stimulate economic development at the spaceport and the region. Several new agreements have been executed and more are forthcoming which will bring new aerospace operators at Houston Spaceport. The new HSDC will identify development plans and submit eligible projects for Spaceport Trust Fund consideration.