Upper Peninsula location named as space launch site

MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) — On Thursday, the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association announced a location just north of Marquette as the latest vertical space launch site. Operations are expected to begin by early 2025.

According to a release sent by MAMA, spaceport consultants BRPH and Kimley-Horn spent the last year making the selection. Factors such as existing commercial and public infrastructure, geographic and terrestrial mapping, living standards, and workforce development were all taken into consideration.

“The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is home to some of the hardest working and most resourceful people in the world,” said U.S. Rep Jack Bergman, R-Watersmeet. “Locating this spaceport in the U.P. will create the opportunity for our residents to use their skills, talents and technological expertise to adapt to the changing needs of the commercial and defense space industries.”

This is the second launch site announcement from MAMA. The Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport outside of Oscoda, Mich. in the Lower Peninsula was named as the top candidate for a horizontal spaceport. Operations there are expected to start in late 2023 or early 2024.

“This announcement is a true win for the people of the U.P.,” said state Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Waucedah Township. “We are very pleased that the U.P.’s many attributes were recognized through the vetting process.  The vertical spaceport could bring quality job prospects to the region and highlight Michigan as a center for excellence and innovation.”  

A command and control center site has yet to be named. The three sites will create more than 2,000 jobs and create what’s being called a “space ecosystem” in Michigan that is projected to create more than 40,000 jobs by 2025.

“Michigan has a real opportunity to support a space-based ecosystem,” said Gavin Brown, executive director of MAMA. “The Marquette location will be a critical component, bringing low-earth orbit vertical launch capabilities to the state to meet the domestic and global demand. By integrating sophisticated infrastructure with first-rate human talent, Michigan can be one of the leaders in the space industry.

In June 2019, the Michigan Legislature appropriated $2 million to assess the feasibility of developing one or more low-orbit launch sites in Michigan. In February 2020, MAMA announced the Oscoda site as the top candidate for a horizontal launch facility.

“I’m pleased the Marquette area has been chosen as a vertical space launch site and appreciate the comprehensive and thoughtful process that led to the selection,” said state Rep. Sara Cambensy, R-Marquette. “This will help bring a new industry to the U.P. and to our state that will provide good-paying jobs to our residents.”

Now that the site has been selected, MAMA will work with community, local, and state partners to solicit feedback as part of the licensing process with the FAA. A command and control center analysis is currently being conducted with an expected completion date of November 2020.