Cities in the race to outer space

Spaceport America - Source:

Spaceport America concept – Source:

One of the buzz terms of planning and economic development in recent years has been “aerotropolis” or cities developed and/or centered around airports. As air travel, overnight delivery, and air freight have become increasingly important, the role of airports has grown enormously.



Throughout history, ease of trade, commerce, and connectivity has played vital roles in determining which cities prosper and thrive. Seaports, canals, railroads, and highways have all determined urban winners and losers.   Today, the airport is the principle success determiner. Cities ranging from Dallas-Fort Worth, to Orlando, to Denver to Hong Kong, to Amsterdam, to Memphis, to Detroit, to Beijing, and to Anchorage have benefitted from establishing and maintaining cutting-edge aviation infrastructure.  This applies to passenger, overnight, air freight, or seaplane facilities.



This begs the question of what next? What mode of transportation will be the next conduit to increased trade, economic growth, and regional prosperity? In this planner’s opinion, those cities that become nodes of space travel and/or infrastructure will move ahead of the crowd by the middle of the 21st century. Because of previous investments, there are a number of cities that are well ahead of the pack. That fact, combined with limitations on the number of spaceports that the market can realistically support, will give the cities listed below a leg up on the competition and make them odd’s on favorites. Nevertheless, other cities around the globe may be able to ingenuously latch on to this futuristic growth engine.


Spaceport America facility – Source:

Below is a list of those cities/metro regions in the United States (in alphabetical order) that are either already at the forefront of the urban space race or may become a potential contender, along with the reason(s) why noted in parenthesis. Not all have to be launch facilities, as research, control and tracking centers are also important.

Mid-Atlantic Spaceport - Source:

Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport – Source:

Please feel free to suggest others that I may have missed. Those sites (existing and proposed) which are in very remote locations were not included on the list. Weblinks to sources are provided at the end of the post.

  • Alamogordo, New Mexico including nearby Las Cruces and El Paso, Texas (White Sands Space Harbor, White Sands Missile Range, and Spaceport America)
  • Bakersfield-Mojave, California (Mojave Air and Spaceport)
  • Brownsville, Texas (South Texas Spaceport) – proposed
  • Cleveland, Ohio (Glenn NASA Research Center)
  • Clinton, Oklahoma (Oklahoma Spaceport)
  • Columbus, Indiana (Space Port Indiana)
  • Fairbanks, Alaska (Poker Flat Research Range)
  • Florida’s Space Coast of Melbourne-Palm Bay-Titusville (Kennedy Space Center and Spaceport Florida)
  • Hampton Roads, Virginia (NASA Langley Research Center, Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport – see photo above, and Wallops Flight Facility)
  • Houston, Texas (Johnson Space Center)
  • Huntsville, Alabama (Marshall Space Flight Center, Redstone Arsenal, and Space Camp)
  • Jacksonville, Florida (Cecil Field Spaceport)
  • Kodiak, Alaska (Kodiak Launch Complex)
  • Las Vegas, Nevada (Nellis facilities and Nevada Test Site)
  • Lompoc-Santa Maria, California (Vandenberg Air Force Base/Launch Facility)
  • Los Alamos, New Mexico (Los Alamos National Laboratory)
  • Mobile, Alabama (Spaceport Alabama) – proposed
  • Moses Lake, Washington (Spaceport Washington)
  • Orlando, Florida (close proximity to Florida’s Space Coast)
  • Picayune-New Orleans area, Mississippi (Stennis Space Center)
  • Sheboygan, Wisconsin (Spaceport Sheboygan and the Great Lakes Aerospace Science Education Center)
  • Southern California (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Edwards AFB/Spaceport)
  • Van Horn, Texas (West Texas/Corn Ranch Spaceport)
  • Washington, DC (NASA HQ, Goddard Space Flight Center, the Pentagon, and other federal departments)


Other cities around the world who are (or may become) leading contenders in the urban space race include (in alphabetical order):

  • Alcantara/San Luis, Brazil (Alcantara Launch Center)
  • Arkhangelsk, Russia (Plesetek Cosmodrome)
  • Dongfeng Aerospace City, China (Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center)
  • Kimotsuki, Japan (Uchinoura Space Center)
  • Kiruna, Sweden (Spaceport Sweden)
  • Kourou, French Guiana (Centre Spatial Guyanais European Spaceport) – see map above
  • Lossiemouth, Scotland (Spaceport Scotland) – proposed
  • Malacca City, Malaysia (Spaceport Malaysia)
  • Natal, Brazil (Barreirra do Inferno Launch Center)
  • Sao Paulo, Brazil (Brazilian Mission Control)
  • Semnan, Iran (Iranian Space Agency)
  • Sri City, India (Satish Dhawan Space Centre)
  • Svobodny, Russia (Vostochny Cosmodrome)
  • Tel Aviv, Israel (Palmachim Airbase)
  • Volgograd, Russia (Kapustin Yar Cosmodrome)
  • Willemstad, Curacao (Spaceport Curacao)
  • Xichang, China (Xichang Satellite Launch Center)
  • Yasny, Russia (Dombarovsky Air Base/Cosmodrome)


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4 Responses to Cities in the race to outer space

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    Being from the “Rocket City”, I’m fascinated by this article!



    It’s OK, just a remark: We do not – and have not to-try to facilitate any global urban re-classification that denies society. Development has too many facets to be confined in ‘single-minded’ airports allocation with their instant human contacts. Culture, for instance, is at the ‘antipode’ of the ‘aerotropolis’ concept, which can sustain more effectively human societies, than airports and their facilities. We are alone in the airport crowd….. We have all had this depressing feeling of loneliness amidst the unknown crowd and there is so much work to be done in order to transform this crowd to society….


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