Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport Picked As Preferred Spaceport Location

Michigan is trying to get their space travel industry off the ground and Tuesday they announced their preferred location for a spaceport.

The plan is to move forward with Oscoda-Wurtsmith airport in Iosco County.

Once it passes the final licensing and feasibility studies, it will be one of five sites in the United States launching satellites, and soon possibly people, into orbit.

“The northern part of our great state actually serves very well to this,” says Gavin Brown of the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturer’s Association.

When looking for a site for Michigan’s first spaceport, officials looked north. The decision came down to either Marquette, Chippewa County, Oscoda or Alpena. Ultimatly choosing the former Air Force base in Oscoda.

“When the Air Force closed down in ’93, there was a huge loss in population and identity,” says State Rep. Sue Allor.

The launches will first be satellites, but Oscoda may soon once again be a military community.

“We’re going to be working with our partners at the Michigan National Guard to work in conjunction with Space Force,” says Brown, “Their initiatives and their missions.”

There are two different methods to launch a rocket, horizontally takes off like an airplane and once it’s in the air drops a rocket that takes off into space. Then the more traditional vertical launch, with a rocket taking off from the ground.

This spaceport in Oscoda has been approved for horizontal take-offs. The state is still deciding, in the next few months, where they want to have their vertical launch site. It could be in Oscoda or could be in one of the three other designated locations.

“Still a vertical component of it and Chippewa County remains highly competitive to obtain the vertical side of this launch operation,” says Chris Olson, president of the Chippewa County Economic Development Corporation.

There is room to grow after that, including possible space tourism.

“They project this to be a $3.2 trillion industry by 2048,” Brown says.

The plan is to not only bring jobs and purpose to Oscoda, but bringing the ecosystem for the industry to take off like a rocket.

“To build a value that includes manufacturing, engineering and research and development,” says Brown. “Do what we can do to become a ‘space state.’”

The state has already invested $2 million into the project and shouldn’t have to wait long to see the rewards.

“You’re probably looking at best case scenario 2022 for operations,” says Brown.