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Oscoda site leads in Michigan space race

ALPENA — The Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport is the top candidate for a horizontal spaceport to be built in Michigan, officials from the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association announced Tuesday.

The spaceport would be used for low-orbit launches and hypersonic launch technology for commercial and defense applications, officials said. Satellites would be launched into a polar orbit, circling the Earth from pole to pole, instead of across the equator.

The other potential spaceport locations include Marquette County’s Sawyer International Airport, Chippewa County Airport in Kinross, and sites in Rogers City and Alpena.

The Oscoda airport received the highest ranking because of its runway infrastructure, business capacity, operational strength, and safety track record, a press release from the association said.

The announcement marks the next step in the process of exploring Michigan’s ability to support space-launch facilities and a command and control center to manage commercial satellite operations.

“While much work lies ahead, we are pleased to share these initial results from our due diligence,” association Executive Director Gavin Brown said in a statement. “Such a facility would solidify Michigan’s leadership role in the aerospace and defense industry while becoming an important economic catalyst.”

The Michigan Legislature in June appropriated $2 million to assess the feasibility of developing one or more low-orbit launch sites in Michigan.

The Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport was among eight sites evaluated over the past eight months.

Association officials announced in January they were accepting letters of interest from communities interested in hosting a command and control center for the spaceport. Those applications were due on Friday.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.

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