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Construction can start on first phase of Las Vegas Spaceport

Updated May 10, 2024 - 8:37 am

Clark County has approved construction permits for an airstrip that is backed by the Las Vegas Spaceport.

The Clark County Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved construction permits for an airstrip at what is being called the Las Vegas Executive Airport, according to a news release from the Las Vegas Spaceport.

“This (approval) opens the door to air races, to an airport and ultimately a spaceport,” Las Vegas Spaceport CEO Robert Lauer said in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It’s not going to happen tomorrow.”

The proposed project involves the construction of a private space port on 240 acres in Clark County. The airstrip would occupy about 40 acres of the site. The developer said it would take $310 million to build a launching pad, a runway for spaceplanes, a control tower, a flight school and a 200-room casino resort between Las Vegas and Pahrump. The spaceport would be about a 45-minute drive from Las Vegas.

Next steps

The airstrip also needs approval from the Federal Aviation Administration. Lauer said there are active discussions with the FAA and he expects to get approval for the airstrip in the next few months.

The groundbreaking for the airstrip should happen within three months, Lauer said. He also said next steps for the site is to host a series of air races and permits for those races could be applied for this summer.

While only an airstrip has been approved, the next development steps are to find a private jet company to operate at the site. Once a private jet company signs on, designs for an airport terminal and hangars will be submitted to Clark County for approval.

The hangars and buildings to go along with the airstrip could cost $30 million to develop, a spokesperson for the Las Vegas Spaceport said.

Lauer is confident that a spaceport will get developed since this airstrip provides a “shovel-ready” project for investors and he expects the capital can be raised for the airstrip and buildings for an executive airport.

Tax free bonds can be used to raise capital for the project since its an airport, Lauer said.

The airstrip would provide an overflow area for private jets, which can be needed for high-profile events such as the Super Bowl and Formula One races, Lauer said.

When does the space part get added?

Lauer said it could take five years before a company can develop an aircraft that can take off from the spaceport runway and go into Earth’s orbit.

The Las Vegas Spaceport would need to go back to Clark County for approval for any space uses at the site.

“Just so it’s 100 percent clear, on the record, your client is only applying for an airstrip and not a spaceport,” County Commissioner Justin Jones asked a representative of Lauer on Wednesday.

“That is correct,” the representative replied.

Lauer envisions the spaceport will not only provide a new form of transport to Las Vegas but help create a “space economy” in the area that attracts space-focused companies. He also mentioned that flight training and scientific education could happen at the future spaceport site.

“We are trying to build an economy, not just a fancy airport,” Lauer said.

Contact Sean Hemmersmeier at shemmersmeier@reviewjournal.com. Follow @seanhemmers34 on X.

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