Houston Airport System officials are weeks away from finalizing a deal with a major aerospace company that plans to locate in the Houston Spaceport, and there are preliminary discussions between several area universities to create a research and development campus at the spaceport, Ellington Airport General Manager Arturo Machuca told area business leaders at a Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon July 30.

Machuca did not say what company plans to locate at the spaceport but said it would be on a 7-9-acre site within Phase 1 of the spaceport, which is now under development. The business would bring 120-200 jobs to the area and has the potential to spur additional developments, such as hotels, he said.

“We have ongoing convos with large companies that are looking at Houston to come here,” Machuca said. “Good news for us.”

The agreement will go before Houston City Council in the next few weeks, he said. Machuca has mentioned to Community Impact Newspaper he believes one day commercial aerospace company Virgin Galactic will be located at the spaceport.

Additionally, airport officials are in early conversations with area universities—such as Texas A&M University, Texas Southern University, Rice University and others—to see if it is viable to create an aerospace-focused research and development campus near the west corner of Phase 1, Machuca said. San Jacinto College leases part of the Edge Center, or the Houston Aerospace Support Center, the spaceport’s sole existing building, with intentions to train aerospace manufacturers and assemblers to grow the Bay Area’s aerospace industry.

The goal of the Houston Spaceport, part of Ellington Airport, is to house dozens of aerospace companies assisting NASA with missions to the International Space Station, moon and Mars and to eventually allow for commercial hypersonic flights capable of flying to faraway destinations in a fraction of the time it takes today, Machuca said.

“It’ll happen," he said. "You have to be patient."