Speaking during a Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon, BAHEP President Bob Mitchell shared updates about the spaceport, the coastal spine and other developments.
The Houston Spaceport, which is part of Ellington Airport in Clear Lake, will soon be home to Axiom Space, Collins Aerospace and Intuitive Machines.
Axiom will manufacture the first commercial space station at the spaceport. Its 23-acre, 430,000-square-foot campus will train private astronauts and create 800 jobs, Mitchell said.
Intuitive Machines has broken ground on a 12.5-acre, 125,000-square-foot facility at the spaceport that will include office, production, assembly and testing spaces and will employ a total of 250 workers by the time the facility is open, Mitchell said. Intuitive Machines is creating the first commercial lunar lander to go to the moon with a launch planned for this year.
Collins’ new building is under construction now at the spaceport. Its campus will be 8 acres, be 116,000 square feet, support spaceflight and host Houston’s first spaceflight accelerator, creating 250 jobs in the process.
“If you haven’t been out there, you really need to go take a look at it,” Mitchell said.
Finally, Venus Aerospace, which is designing a hypersonic plane that will travel 12 times faster than the speed of sound, is planning a 13-acre, 250,000-square-foot development at the spaceport, Mitchell said.
However, there are other spaceport projects in the works. Mitchell said the BAHEP is working to secure two new projects that will be bigger than the others combined.
The two projects will total over 600,000 square feet and create 1,800 new jobs. The projects will allow for manufacturing on-site, Mitchell said.
The spaceport is also home to the EDGE Center, which is a San Jacinto College project to train manufacturers and others who want to enter the aerospace industry. During COVID-19, seven students graduated from the center, and all seven have aerospace-related jobs, Mitchell said. Additionally, 54 students are enrolled at the center, he said.
Besides the spaceport, Mitchell spoke about other projects as well.
The coastal spine, otherwise known as the Coastal Texas Study, is a multibillion-dollar plan to protect the entire Gulf Coast from catastrophic storms. While the entire plan is about $36 billion, only about $16 billion of that will go toward projects between the Greater Houston region and its 5.5 million residents and several important industries, such as the massive floodgates proposed between Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula, Mitchell said.
“This is a national security issue,” he said.
The BAHEP is working with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn to secure additional funds to move the project along to Congress. Additionally, Mitchell is part of the Gulf Coast Protection District, a nonfederal group created to help sponsor and match federal dollars for the project, Mitchell said.
Two sessions ago, legislators approved allocating $200 million to Orange and Jefferson counties to begin work on related coastal protection projects. Last session, legislators approved another $200 million for additional projects, meaning work on the coastal spine has technically already begun, Mitchell said.
Timelines show the coastal spine project will take 20 years to complete, but it could be done as early as three if another devastating hurricane were to hit the coast and spur Congress to immediately fund the project, Mitchell said.
“We just don’t know,” he said of how long the project will take.