ROCKET-HAMPTON? This is the XCOR Lynx spacecraft that could be blasting off from Rockhampton Airport if a $45 million spaceport proposal gets the thumbs up. INSET: Successful US businessman Wheelock Whitney (left) socialises with former Rockhampton man John Moody in the Amazon.
ROCKET-HAMPTON? This is the XCOR Lynx spacecraft that could be blasting off from Rockhampton Airport if a $45 million spaceport proposal gets the thumbs up. INSET: Successful US businessman Wheelock Whitney (left) socialises with former Rockhampton man John Moody in the Amazon. Contributed

Rocky Airport future site for spacecraft terminal?

ALONG with beef and pineapples, spacecraft could become a Rockhampton icon... if our airport is deemed suitable enough for a spacecraft terminal.

It also depends on whether former Rockhampton man John Moody has success with his proposal to build a $45 million spaceport, which could horizontally launch spacecraft like the XCOR Lynx from Rockhampton Airport.

Successful US (Minnesota) businessman, educator and sports team executive Wheelock
Successful US (Minnesota) businessman, educator and sports team executive Wheelock "Whee" Whitney Jr socialises with former Rockhampton man John Moody, who wants to build a spaceport in Central Queensland. Photo Contributed Contributed Photo ROK

Mr Moody, who now lives in Brisbane, told The Morning Bulletin space experts had flagged the city as one of the most ideal locations in Australia for a spacecraft terminal.

This was because of Rockhampton's geographical location, its proximity to the ocean, its military usage and its minimal impact on the environment.

Mr Moody - who said he had spent the past several months researching and proposing this idea - flew to Los Angeles earlier this week.

Among the many things to do on his trip to the USA was a meeting with Andrew Nelson, the president of American spaceflight development company XCOR Aerospace.

He said American space experts had touted Rockhampton, several times, as "the centre of the universe" and the perfect location for a spacecraft terminal.

The former North Rockhampton High School student took that notion and ran with it by proposing the construction of Spaceport Australia, which included a 457m-extension of the existing runway.

This would ensure that the runway had the capacity to horizontally launch an aircraft similar to the XCOR Lynx spacecraft, which could take humans and payloads on a half-hour suborbital flight to heights of more than 100km, before returning to its take-off runway.

His proposal entailed the construction of a dual carrier spaceport, a passenger terminal facility for private space tourism, service provider hangars, offices, a car park, a research laboratory and the extension of the existing airport entry road.

Bear in mind, Rockhampton residents, the proposal was just that at this very early stage. Mr Moody said he had submitted proposals to the state and federal governments to see if the idea was worth pursuing.

Mr Moody, a former band manager in Sydney, still had a long way to go before this proposal could take off.

Rockhampton councillor Neil Fisher said there were still major procedures to factor in like feasibility, and more importantly public consultation, before anything went ahead.

However, Cr Fisher said he was not going to road block the idea.

"Aviation, by nature, is about pushing things beyond the boundaries," he said.

"Former Rockhampton mayors Jim Webber and Jim McRae always saw the airport as having an important role for the economic future of the region."

Although Cr Fisher wouldn't comment on Mr Moody's proposal for an extension to the runway, he said Rockhampton Regional Council owned several parcels of land around the airport.

Mr Moody plans to meet with the council later this month to further discuss his proposal.

Quirky space fact

The Apollo 8 mission (the second human spaceflight mission in the US in 1968) was meant as a precursor of the eventual moon landing of the Apollo 11. It was commanded by Frank Borman and piloted by James Lovell and William Anders. There were several setbacks on the mission, but none more vile than when Borman woke from a nap with an upset stomach. He vomited and had diarrhoea, the globules of which floated all over the inside of the ship in zero gravity.



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