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FAA approves Huntsville International Airport to operate as spaceport, too

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FAA considering plan to land space vehicles in Alabama

The Huntsville International Airport is now the first commercial airport in the U.S. to be approved as a reentry site for space vehicles, the airport and Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday.

The FAA said it is issuing a license to the Huntsville-Madison Airport Authority to allow Sierra Space Dream Chaser vehicles returning from NASA resupply missions at the International Space Station to land at the Huntsville airport.

The license is valid for five years and makes Huntsville International Airport the 14th FAA-licensed commercial spaceport.

"The landing of Dream Chaser at Huntsville International Airport is part of a vision for economic development that continues our legacy in space science and taps into our workforce expertise and assets developed for the International Space Station," Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

According to a release from Huntsville International Airport, Sierra Space has been awarded six missions by NASA so far and plans to apply for the necessary FAA license it needs to land at the airport. 

If approved, the Dream Chaser could start landing in Huntsville starting in 2023. 

"That's going to be an exciting day, not just for the airport but also for the talented and dedicated partners in this effort," said Mark McDaniel, chairman of the board of directors for the Port of Huntsville/Huntsville International Airport.

Gov. Kay Ivey commended everyone who has worked to make this a reality.

"Huntsville has propelled us into another historic first for our state," she said.

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