According to the Governor of Guam and the Guam Airport, the tropical island known for welcoming Asian tourists is looking to be a potential launch site for space flights.
In a report on the Pacific Daily News, Guam Governor Eddie Baza Calvo stated the airport is conducting feasibility studies for hosting a spaceport in response to a growing interest by space flight organizations looking to set up operations on the island.
“In the last few years, we have seen a number of organizations come to Guam to conduct various studies on the climate and the atmosphere, and using Guam as a site from which they have launched balloons, planes and other equipment,” Calvo said in a release. “It is our equatorial location that has brought them here and that makes it ideal for launches… and we have a couple of companies who have shown interest in partnering with us on this.”
Among the companies mentioned has been Virgin Orbit, owned by the Virgin Group. “We’ve been working with Virgin Orbit since April. They came to us—in large part because of our location,” Guam Airport Director Chuck Ada said. “They’re a very forward-thinking and exciting company, and we’re both very keen on this opportunity.”
Virgin Orbit was formed in 2017 to develop the LauncherOne rocket. The company is based in Long Beach, California, and has more than 300 employees. Virgin Orbit President Dan Hart is a former vice president of government satellite systems at Boeing Co. The company uses a Boeing 747 to launch small satellites from its wing
Ada also stated the airport authority is working on the clearance application processing with the US Federal Aviation Administration. In the report, he touted the island’s location and adequate runways to handle the largest jets.
The two runways at Guam’s Airport measure at over 10000 feet (3048 meters) and 12015 feet (3658 meters), which were expanded during the 2000s to accommodate the large jets such as the Airbus A380 or the Antonov AN225. Both runways are equipped with modern navigation equipment for precision approaches.
“We are the only U.S. airport with runways capable of long-haul flights directly to the continental U.S., and we can accommodate any-sized plane,” Ada said. “We’re in a great position.” Ada also stated the space flights could start in 2019 if approved and if Virgin Orbit selects Guam as a launch site.
While no final plans has been set, Calvo expressed his optimism and the possibility of Guam getting involved in the space industry. In his recent weekly address, he stated: “I am looking forward to seeing this become a new industry for Guam. Imagine, our children being a part of space exploration and the next level of communications and technology.”