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Oklahoma Space Industry Blasts Off
11th November, 2005

Oklahoma's aerospace industry is about to kick into high gear, members of the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority were told Wednesday.

OSIDA's requested budget would rise 13.7 percent for the fiscal year ending June 2007 to just over $596,000.

And that's because we're transitioning now from a licensing phase to an actual operational phase, said Executive Director Bill Khourie. All the requirements for licensure of Oklahoma's spaceport at Burns Flat - a facility designed for launching reusable spacecraft into suborbital flight - have nearly been completed, said Khourie. Though there have been some bureaucratic delays in completing the environmental study, that should be completed no later than April, said Khourie.

There are things we're going to have to tackle - as far as getting things ramped up, said Khourie. Like when you open a new store, you're going to have to do some things to open shop. So we're trying to be frugal, and we looked at it and we feel that we can do so with that 13.7 percent increase, to get ourselves off the ground floor.

Rocketplane Limited Inc. has worked closely with OSIDA with the goal of getting a reusable launch vehicle, referred to in the industry as an RLV, in the air by 2007. Rocketplane President and Chief Executive George D. French said the company's project has already come through the system design review and preliminary design revue process.

We are now at critical design review, and that is where you freeze all the designs and you go to manufacture, said French. We're actually ahead in a few things, and behind in a few things, so we're already in elements of manufacture now.

Also at Wednesday's meeting Khourie suggested Oklahoma begin hosting a trade show for spaceport and reusable launch vehicles at the spaceport in Burns Flat, sometime in the spring or fall. If successful, the trade show could become an annual event. Hosting such an event could highlight Oklahoma's position at the forefront of the industry, he said.

We've got 96 acres of concrete ramp, said Khourie. Aerospace companies would be able to bring hardware: for instance, landing gears for demonstration, wing concepts, fuselage. There's a multitude of things that might come in on tractor-trailers that are so large that they can't really be exhibited in the exhibit hall we have out there, but it makes for a nice outdoor display.

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