State Hopes To Lure Space Launch Base For Northern Michigan

Feb 18, 2020

Political and business officials in Michigan are working on a bid to convert a former military air base into a rocket launch site.

Wurtsmith Air Force Base was decommissioned in 1993 and is now a smaller regional airport. But economic developers now hope the airport can be used as what they’re calling a “space base.” 

Gavin Brown is with the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturing Association. He said Wurtsmith Airport could be an ideal location for a site to launch low-orbit satellites for navigation and for space tourism. 

“We want to be a space state, so we have a lot of work ahead of us to get there.” Said Brown. “We believe that, I call it the “Third Coast” should be participating, not just the Pacific and the Atlantic states.” 

Brown acknowledges the bid is a longshot. But he said Wurtsmith’s history, its proximity to Lake Huron and to manufacturing centers, as well as the region’s low population density could make it an ideal location for rocket launches.

State Senator Jim Stamas represents the region that includes the airport, which borders Lake Huron.

“It really makes a lot of sense. It’s within a very short distance to get up over water. Population density right in that area is a lower population to create less of a threat if something horrible were to happen.” Said Stamas.

According to Stamas, the state’s tool-making and manufacturing plants could also make the location more appealing. 

Brown says the state and the industry are working on a request for FAA approval.