OSCODA – The Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association (MAMA) is on the hunt for a command and control center site, and Oscoda Township has thrown its hat into the ring.

The board of trustees voted unanimously at their Monday meeting to send a letter of interest to MAMA, regarding a satellite command and control communications center to support the launch and daily operations of satellites.

Superintendent Dave Schaeffer shared with the board the Jan. 28 MAMA press release, which was summarized in the Feb. 5 edition of this publication.

He told officials that MAMA is accepting letters of interest related to the command and control center through this Friday, Feb. 14, and he is seeking the approval of trustees to submit such a letter on behalf of Oscoda, prior to the deadline.

“The township board previously approved a letter of interest to MAMA concerning the opportunities associated with both the horizontal launch and vertical launch facilities,” Schaeffer added.

Similar to the township’s response to those components, he said there is a new component for the satellite command and control communications center.

“Just as we submitted a letter of interest, they came back and gave us an RFI – a request for information – which was a whole detail of all the information that they need to be able to make a decision on the site associated with satellite command and control communications,” Schaeffer elaborated.

“So, just as we went through that  letter of interest to responding to the RFI, this is to submit that letter of interest. If they choose us, as far as the RFI, then we would get the RFI at a later date,” he continued.

Since the last board meeting, he and Economic Improvement Director Todd Dickerson attended a spaceport facilities site visit in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Also taking part were Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport (OWA) Manager Gary Kellan and OWA Authority member Dave Dailey.

The delegation was held Feb. 4-7, and MAMA invited its members to participate in the event.

The visit included stops at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Patrick Air Force Base and other commercial space companies within the Cape Canaveral area.

Schaeffer noted that the Kennedy Space Center visit also entailed a tour of the vehicle assembly building.

According to the NASA website, the iconic facility serves as the central hub of NASA’s premier multi-user spaceport, capable of hosting several different kinds of rockets and spacecraft at the same time.

Schaeffer told board members that it was very interesting to meet some of the other players associated with the spaceport who are currently operating in Cape Canaveral, and what that ecosystem would look like for the next steps in the spaceport.

He also said he and Dickerson were informed that the new date for the announcement – on the horizontal component for the MAMA/Michigan Launch Initiative (MLI) – will be Tuesday, Feb. 18. “And so we are hopeful that the announcement goes in the community’s favor.”

As reported, following the MLI site visit in Oscoda last year, it was revealed that the preferred spaceport location in the state would be announced in early January.

Township officials were expecting to hear at their Jan. 27 meeting whether the community had been chosen as the Michigan site of a potential spaceport operation. Schaeffer, however, advised that the decision had been bumped back again, after the announcement was initially supposed to come on Jan. 2, and then on Jan. 22.

As Kellan has pointed out, MAMA Executive Director Gavin Brown indicated that the goal is to bring the governor’s office up to speed on the project before any formal announcement of the selected sites. Therefore, getting on the governor’s schedule has been a driving factor in this.

Brown says MAMA has been  engaged in Phase I work on the MLI, which involves the feasibility of sites for both vertical and horizontal launch capabilities. When an announcement is made regarding the site(s) which meet and exceed the highest value,  this location will serve as the basis to move forward with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licensing for a spaceport for both/individually, vertical and horizontal launches serving LEO/MEO/suborbital, polar orbit demand.

Upon choosing the Michigan spaceport site – be it in Oscoda or elsewhere – the candidate will then have to compete nationally for licensing through the FAA Space System program.

As noted in MAMA’s Jan. 28 press release, with the rapid development of horizontal and vertical space launch facilities coming to Michigan, the association is collaborating with partners such as the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Michigan National Guard to build a command and control center to support the launch and daily operations of satellites.

The news release announced the start of a location search for a command and control center to manage commercial satellite operations and provide U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) support to such branches as Space Force.

As noted in the document, Michigan is leading Mid-America’s space efforts by creating an ecosystem of space technology, launch facilities and now a space communications ground support station. The high-tech communications center will be an important growth contributor to Michigan and the surrounding region economies, serving the LEO, MEO and hypersonic space industries.

“As we continue to build Michigan’s international space influence with technology, manufacturing, and launch assets, providing a communications telemetry center will enhance our leadership growth in the space satellite industry,” Brown stated. “Providing a complete ecosystem of value to the commercial and DoD space marketplace is what we are building.”

As for the command and control center, RFIs and the requirements detailing the process will be provided to qualified applicants, and site submissions will be evaluated on a variety of technical, economic and physical factors.

According to those from MAMA, the developing space industry in the state also complements its past and present leadership in the automotive industry. With satellites providing the future communications for autonomous vehicle technology, Michigan’s expansion into the space industry insures its technological edge for ground vehicles.

For more information about MAMA, visit www.michman.org.