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Quad Cities airport considers future spaceport

©AJ Brown Imaging
Quad Cities International Airport

The sky might no longer be the limit for the Quad Cities International Airport.

The Moline airport is conducting a study to see how much money and work it would take to add a spaceport in the next twenty years.

Spokeswoman Ashleigh Davis says it could become a "horizontal launch" site.

"Planes would use the existing ten thousand foot runway that the airport has, they would take off just like a regular commercial aircraft would, however they would have a different system that they'd switch on, a different fueling mechanism, that would allow them to travel into space."

"At this point, cargo seems to make the most sense, but that certainly doesn't have to be the end of it."

In the meantime, Davis says the airport remains focused on improving to serve passengers and attract more airlines.

"Within the next five years, we're going to be doing major terminal renovations at the airport," she said. "Even though we're looking at a spaceport planning study, that in no way impacts the way that we're going after air service."

It would need to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. Davis says the administration is limiting the amount of commercial spaceports it allows.

"We don't want to miss out on a potential opportunity, so when you look at even just the job potential, what kind of manufacturing jobs would it bring to the Quad Cities, these are all potential ways to see a lot of growth in our region by doing something that's on the forefront of technology and aviation."

There are currently 10 spaceports licensed by the FAA as horizontal launch sites.

Moline Congressman Eric Sorensen serves on the House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee.

He says those sites make it possible to send heavy cargo into space, including the parts to build a docking station.

"If we're able to meet the needs to be able to literally propel things out of earth to the lunar surface, to build the docking station that we're going to need to get us to mars in thirty years, these are decisions that have to be made today."

Rachel graduated from Michigan State University's J-School and has a background in broadcast and environmental journalism. Before WVIK, she worked for WKAR Public Media, Great Lakes Now, and more. In her free time, she likes to cook, hike, and hang out with her cat.