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Timeline for Ceiba spaceport to be announced by end of 2023

The Puerto Rico 5G Zone has announced that the official timeline of events for the spaceport to be created in the José Aponte de la Torre Airport in Ceiba will be released by the end of the year, after the Puerto Rico Ports Authority selects the two requests for proposals candidates.

“The first payload launch — which will be fully sponsored — is either due at the end of December or early January, and the hope is that we will receive the certification for horizontal launch and land sometime in May 2024,” said Gail Nolan, chief executive officer of PR5G Zone, a nonprofit research lab helping stakeholders harness 5G, blockchain and smart tech with secure Zero Trust Architecture.

The call of the RFP for the leasing, development, construction, operation, marketing and maintenance of the spaceport issued on Feb. 22 closes May 22 at 4:30 p.m. AST, as News is my Business reported.

PR5G Zone also explained that the government is currently defining the opportunities available for an operator to perform the launching paths.

“For being a fairly young industry in Puerto Rico, we already have five patents that have been given to engineers that are locally based, and they are in space applications, which is not, probably not broadly known,” said Luis Ramos, engineering director and site leader of Honeywell.

Additionally, Heath Mills, chief scientific officer of Rhodium Scientific, said in upcoming weeks they will announce RFPs for two funded missions to go to the International Space Station.

“One focused on bioscience, biotech, the science mission, and then one focused on some hardware development, some small tech development, looking at novel analytical devices to do and collect unique data within the International Space Station,” said Mills.

During an online webinar hosted by Invest Puerto Rico, representatives of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust; Rhodium Scientific; Honeywell; and PR5G Zone explained that they aim to create awareness of the opportunities that exist for space projects through a strategic alliance.

“The International Space Station has a decommissioned date of 2030, and there are four entities that are looking at having commercial space stations starting to deploy in 2026, and so, we’re really wanting Puerto Rico to be positioned for that intersection of those two dates,” Nolan said.

The Puerto Rico Ports Authority is the agency responsible for overseeing the potential development of the spaceport, which aims to rely solely on private funding as a commercial operation, and said it will provide further information after the selection of the RFP candidates, which is expected to be announced at the end of May.

“For the past decade, our research grants program has been financing research projects, providing funding to researchers and training opportunities to students, technicians, and contributing greatly to the knowledge economy of the island,” said Andreica Maldonado, research grants program director for the Puerto Rico Science Trust.

“So that’s why we’ve been in conversation with other organizations that already have all these programs in place, because we want to bring the resources to the island to promote and to show not only students at a university level, but kids, that … space is an option so that they can pursue careers in space,” said Maldonado.

Author Details
Author Details
Yamilet Aponte-Claudio was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She graduated from Colegio Nuestra Señora de la Providencia and is currently a junior at Sacred Heart University. Majoring in Journalism and adding a minor in sustainable development and foreign languages, she aspires to study law after obtaining her bachelor’s degree.

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