Las Vegas Spaceport Takes First Step Toward Launchpad

Posted on: May 10, 2024, 01:44h. 

Last updated on: May 10, 2024, 01:44h.

It’s still many years from a countdown, but an airport for recreational space travel in Las Vegas just cleared the first hurdle on its voyage toward reality. The Clark County Commission unanimously approved construction permits this week for the Las Vegas Spaceport to build a $30 million runway.

A rendering of the Las Vegas Spaceport, which would be built on desert land 32 miles west of Las Vegas. (Image: Las Vegas Spaceport)

Slated for 240 acres of desert land near Sin City’s border with Pahrump, Nev., the $310 million project was announced last summer by Las Vegas Spaceport CEO Rob Lauer.

“I am 100% convinced that the technology is on the cusp of existing to build a space plane you can fly into space in, go to a space hotel, the Moon, or Mars, and then come back in and land like an airplane,” Lauer, a commercial real-estate developer, told last year.

Before opening, the spaceport will also need to build a passenger terminal, taxiway, and a control tower. Lauer’s ambitious plans also call for a rooftop observation deck, a private jet terminal, a ground school where civilians receive flight acclimation training, and a 20,000 square-foot casino — which would be leased to a local gaming company to be determined later — as well as a 200-room hotel with a restaurant.

Lauer — whose team includes advisors such as retired US Air Force Brigadier General Robert Novotny and Dave Ruppel, former director of the Colorado Spaceport — said he hopes to raise the capital from equity financing.

Currently, 14 similar spaceports are licensed by the FAA, though only two are privately owned, and you already guessed by whom. (One guy owns SpaceX, the other a little company called Amazon.)

However, instead of the $200,000-$300,000 per average it costs to ride with Elon Musk’s SpaceX or Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Lauer said that developing tech will bring costs down to as little as $30,000-50,000 per seat by the time his dream becomes reality.

Why Vegas?

The primary reason to build a spaceport in Las Vegas, Lauer said, is the town’s 40 million visitors per year.

“They’re all only a 15-minute helicopter ride away,” he said. “And how many folks do we have flying to Las Vegas and spending $100,000 on a hand of poker? Casinos in Las Vegas could offer our rides as a bonus to their highest-paying customers.”

Lauer’s company would not build the space planes itself, but would partner with one of the 37 companies currently seeking FAA approval to do so.

“We have a 10-year plan to build a space tourism industry here,” Lauer said.