By Vincenzo Claudio Piscopo
Grottaglie Spaceport in Southern Italy to be Dubbed ‘Cryptaliae Spaceport’
The Grottaglie airport in Apulia (Southern Italy), has already a strategic role within the aerospace world. It is part of the international program for the on-site production of the Boeing 787 “Dreamliner” fuselages, but is currently interested in its further development as a strategic infrastructure for Europe for the growth of the aerospace and aeronautics sector, as confirmed by the identification of the same as the first Italian spaceport intended to host suborbital flights.
The spaceport is a complex of facilities, physical and technological, suitable for launching missile launchers for scientific and military purposes, able to follow the first phases of flight. On July 25, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the Apulia Region, the Italian aviation authority (ENAC) and the company that manages airports in Apulia (Aeroporti di Puglia), to begin with public or private applications from the aerospace sector and give the chance to kick off the first partnerships.
Grottaglie Airport has long since shown considerable interest in aerospace. In May 2019, the Apulian airport hosted the International Conference “Grottaglie Spaceport for Europe,” which brought together leaders of European aerospace players from both institutions and commercial sectors to exchange and share their views on plans for the Grottaglie spaceport.
A significant role within the new space economy sector has commercial suborbital transportation, which, by taking advantage of emerging technologies, will allow flight operations for research and experimentation activities in microgravity and, in the future, for launching satellites into orbit. Grottaglie Airport has been identified as a site to develop a regulatory development project to enable commercial suborbital transport operations and support the development of this particular sector.
The concept of space tourism also continues to grow in popularity, and there are a growing number of companies engaged in activities in this emerging field, such as Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and Blue Origin.
Grottaglie Airport will not only be a Spaceport for the European strategic development of autonomous access to Space (suborbital flights and re-entries to the base of space operations, etc.), but also an aeronautical test bed for the development, testing and certification of industrial and scientific research projects in the aeronautical/aerospace field.
The Grottaglie airport will be the first spaceport in Italy, as well as the first in Western Europe.