City council votes to keep Midland spaceport alive

MIDLAND -- Tuesday's vote to determine the fate of Midland’s International Spaceport revealed most of the city council still believes in the project.

“Mind you, we are the only international air and space port in the world,” Councilman J. Ross Lacy said. “So we have that unique distinction, especially when you look at supersonic travel and how all this is progressing forward. It’s nice to have this asset and opportunity and live in place for the exciting opportunities in the future.”

The council voted 6-1 to renew its contract with SilverWing Enterprises, an aerospace consulting company that manages Midland’s spaceport license. The one vote came from Spencer Robnett, who has been public with his belief that the spaceport needs to be shut down.

“Yeah I don’t think it would ever have a chance in Midland,” Robnett said. “I do think the space business and space technology and aerospace sector is evolving. There’s a lot of money being invested in it by billionaires, Bezos, Musk, and Branson. Unfortunately we don’t have a billionaire in Midland chasing aerospace investment. We’ve got a small economic development corporation that takes direction from the city council.”

Robnett also said the spaceport is no longer in the best interest of taxpayers.

“To date we’ve spent over $20 million on the spaceport,” Robnett said. “That came out of the airport fund, and also from the Midland development corporation. Those are sales tax payer funds. Spending airport funds on airport projects is one thing. Spending sales tax, economic development funds, to chase long-shots is a completely different conversation in my opinion.”

However, other council members were satisfied with the technology and facilities that money has brought.

“We’ve got a company that will be filling hangars A and B, along with some other space out there, that’s moving here,” Lacy said. “No relocation incentive. They’re coming here because we have the assets in place. Because we had those, that made us attractive.”

“What we need at the airport is more parking, more hangars,” Robnett said. “Yeah we’ve got a nice asset out there now and some hangars and a space port business development park, but maybe we should focus more on existing aero technology instead of aerospace.”

For now, Midland will keep reaching for the stars.