LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A bill passing through the state legislature could land a spaceport in Arkansas, but just how much could it cost to find out if one is needed?
State Sen. Justin Boyd (R-Fort Smith) sponsored two bills: one that would require the state to conduct a feasibility study to determine if we could use a spaceport, and another to appropriate the funds to do so.
Both have now passed through the legislative process.
Boyd said this comes as a result of former Governor Asa Hutchinson’s future mobility council he created while he was in office. They issued a final report with one of the recommendations being to do a feasibility study for a spaceport.
Boyd said the bill determining the price tag for the study has appropriated up to $950,000 of government funding.
He said that is the first step, the next is finding the funds.
“Anytime we talk about funding that is a challenging discussion,” he said. “We have a lot of competing interest but, I feel good about this one.”
Boyd said he believes a spaceport would result in a lot of revenue for the state.
“There are people who are paying money to travel to space right now, like private companies,” Boyd said.
Right now, several other neighboring states have spaceports, though Boyd said that would not necessarily take away from our need to have one as well.
“What I understand is maybe not all of the infrastructure around those spaceports is fully developed. The other thing is, its a growing industry right?” Boyd said. “If we are going to be late to the game it could be that we miss out on an opportunity.”
Roger Cunningham is the Head of the Spaceport Development Committee and is in full support of the bills.
“I think revenue is the first symptom of doing things right, but I think in addition the workforce development, the quality of life, improvement to the community,” Cunningham said. “The feasibility study, its purpose is to determine will this be a set of benefits that can happen to the Arkansas community and to what degree can we capture and achieve these benefits?”
Boyd said his appropriation bill leaves it up to the Economic Development Commission to do the study, or they can hire people to do it.