OSCODA – Members of the Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport Authority (OWAA) will be attending the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association’s (MAMA)Space Symposium, on Sept. 9 and 10 in Traverse City.

The decision was made, among other action, during the July 11 OWAA meeting.

Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport (OWA) Manager Gary Kellan said Michigan Launch Initiative (MLI) representatives have encouraged OWAA members to attend the Space Symposium.

According to Kellan, OWAA provided authorization and funding approval for him, and board members David Dailey and Mike Munson to take part in the event.

The two-day symposium will focus on developments with Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. For more information about the event, MAMA and MLI, visit www.michman.org.

“The Airport Board was also informed that Staff is waiting for the MLI to issue Request For Information document(s) – in order to proceed with competing in the MLI review and site selection consideration process,” Kellan added.

As previously reported, MAMA Executive Director Gavin Brown gave a presentation at the April 11 OWAA meeting. He discussed the possibility of bringing a launch facility, both vertical and horizontal, to the state, with Oscoda being named as one of the possible MLI site locations.

Should the township be selected, Brown said the activity at the launch site would involve LEO satellites. These are small to mid-size rockets, measuring anywhere from the size of a basketball, to about one yard long.

“They’re looking for launch facilities, because over 10,000 satellites will be launched in the next 10 years,” he reported at the time.

With the proposed operation being specific to LEO, Brown said the program can focus on the services these satellites provide, such as global Internet access, weather monitoring and voice and data communications. Another example is autonomous cars which, in order to be truly operational, requires them being able to “talk” to one another going down the road. This can’t be accomplished unless a communications system is in place.

Of the potential benefits, should a spaceport operation come to Oscoda, Brown said there would be a dramatic growth of investment and employees, and a boom for the township’s tourism. Everything in the community today – including hotels, housing and restaurants – will have to be utilized as part of the project.

He added that bio-fuels will be used, making the site a “green” spaceport, and that there are a number of investors who see the benefits of this program and are looking at it as the next industry to finance.

Following his presentation, OWAA, AuSable Township, Oscoda Township, the Iosco County Board of Commissioners and others have adopted resolutions of support for such a program at OWA.

In separate business during their latest meeting, OWAA members adopted a resolution authorizing Kellan and authority chair Kevin Boyat to sign a proposed grant agreement and other project related documents regarding Phase I resurfacing of Taxiway E at the airport.

Kellan stated that the Airport Capital Improvement Plan (ACIP) identifies a section of Taxiway E for pavement resurfacing, which is located between the runway and the Iosco Apron.

“The ACIP schedules preparation of engineering designs and specifications this year (2019) and implementing construction during 2020,” he advised in his board agenda letter.

He said it was during the April OWAA meeting when members approved contracting with Mead & Hunt Engineering for preparing designs, specifications and bid solicitation documents related to the resurfacing. The approved fee is $56,821.

Kellan shared that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Michigan Department of Transportation-Aeronautics (MDOT-Aero) are offering a grant to help pay for these engineering services.

The cost sharing would include the FAA paying for 90 percent of the work, or $53,388, with the remaining 10 percent being split among OWAA and MDOT-Aero.