We Paid For It: Oklahoma's Space Initiative

Friday, January 30th 2015, 11:03 pm
By: News 9

Hopes of space flights launching from an air strip near Burns Flat have fizzled for now.

Lawmakers created the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority (OSIDA) in 1999 to turn an abandoned industrial park at the Oklahoma Air & Spaceport Clinton-Sherman (KCSM) airport into an area for future space tourism.

Since that time, Oklahoma taxpayers have spent millions of dollars toward this initiative which has yet to become a reality, as far as space flights.

In fact, we paid approximately $18 million in tax incentives to Rocketplane Global to become the Spaceport's anchor tenant, a company that recently went bankrupt. In the 15 years of OSIDA's existence, they have received $7,065,549 in state appropriations, used for general operations.

In fact, lawmakers this year voted to give the space development authority another $372,887, mostly for general operation costs.

While none of the money has helped spur space tourism, the multi-purpose, federally funded aviation facility, conducted 35,000 flight operations each year. In fact, Cessna and many other aviation companies conducted flight tests and training there.

Just last month, it hosted the newest VIP Boeing 747-800. The airplane conducted flight operations for almost three hours in the radar and visual pattern, performing proficiency training and flight testing. The Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower provided support to the aircrew, while the OSIDA staff team managed and coordinated successful ground operations. The Fixed Base Operator, Regional Air Inc. conducted the refueling operation, providing almost 6,000 gallons of Jet A fuel.

Along with flight operations like this, OSIDA officials said it also generates revenue, everything from leasing hangars to selling fuel. It also handles the wastewater for approximately 900 homes located on site and has the potential of developing 2,000 acres of industrial park space, officials told News 9.