The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has authorised the Houston Airport System to establish the Ellington Airport as a launch site for Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLV).
The decision comes two years after the members of the Houston City Council voiced their support of the project that will make the airport the 10th commercial spaceport in the US.
The receipt of Launch Site License will enable Ellington Airport to carry out aerospace operations including micro satellites launches, astronaut training, zero gravity experimentation and spacecraft manufacturing among other potential activities.
Houston mayor Annise Parker said: "Houston will play a lead role in commercial space operations in the 21st century.
"We believe a licensed Spaceport in Houston will not only serve as an economic generator for the city but also enhance Houston’s well-deserved reputation as a leader and key player in the aerospace industry."
The Houston Airport System has worked in cooperation with FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation to equip the airport with infrastructure that are needed for accommodating RLVs, which are vehicles capable of being launched into space more than once.
The vehicles execute horizontal launches, rather than vertical, similar to commercial aircraft.
Houston Aviation director Mario Diaz said: "Houston has been at the forefront of aviation history and innovation for decades.
"Not only does this opportunity reinforce an already long-established connection with the aerospace industry, it offers Houston an opportunity to strengthen its reputation as a forward-looking city and leader in creating high-tech, next-generation type jobs."
Image: The FAA’s approval will make Ellington Airport the 10th commercial spaceport in the US. Photo: courtesy of Houston Airport System.