News

Governor Names Deputy Director of SDL to Spaceport Board

USURF
July 25, 2001

LOGAN, UT — Gov. Mike Leavitt appointed Frank J. Redd, Ph.D., deputy director of Utah State University's Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL), to Utah's Spaceport Advisory Board earlier this month. Redd is one of seven members of the newly

"I am excited to be a member of this board and look forward to serving on it," said Redd.

The Utah Spaceport Authority Act, passed during the most recent legislative session, gave the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) authority to plan, construct, operate and maintain a spaceport in Utah. The Act also called for the formation of the Spaceport Advisory Board to establish regulations for spaceport operations, including oversight takeoffs and landings of spacecraft in the state - if and when the spaceport is built.
Utah is one of a number of states, including Idaho, New Mexico and Nevada, vying for the opportunity to build a vertical launch site and a 3.5 mile-long landing strip for reusable space planes. The proposed site for Utah's spaceport is centered 34 miles southwest of Milford in Beaver County's Wah Wah Valley.

"If Utah builds a spaceport it would be a big construction project but would provide tremendous technological, educational and economic benefits to the state and its aerospace industry," said Redd.

Interest in expanding U.S. rocket launch sites beyond Florida's Cape Canaveral, California's Vandenberg Air Force Base and other military locations, has grown in direct proportion to the dramatic increase in commercial satellite launches over the past decade. Competition among states to build a spaceport heated up in 1996, when NASA awarded Lockheed Martin $900 million to build a prototype space plane called the X-33. A reusable spacecraft, the X-33 is expected to launch satellites and other freight into orbit from land-based spaceports, at a fraction of today's cost.
Redd says the technology used with the X-33 would enable faster turn-around in space missions. "It would be more like running an airline than a space shuttle operation," said Redd. "Utah's spaceport would be an extremely active place - like an airport."

While NASA backed out of the X-33 project earlier this year due to design problems and test failures, the U.S. military remains interested in the venture. In a statement this past spring, Col. Mike Perini, director of public affairs at the Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colo., said that "affordable and responsive access to space is a primary goal of the Air Force."

Redd has served as SDL deputy director since 1996. Prior to joining SDL and Utah State, Redd managed the construction of Vandenberg's Space Shuttle Launch Facility in his role as deputy to the director of the Air Force Space Shuttle program. He retired with the rank of Colonel from a 27-year career with the Air Force. Redd is a former head of Utah State's mechanical and aerospace engineering department.

Other members appointed to the Spaceport Advisory Board were Stephen Draper, Richard Leyba, John L. Quick, Richard Rollins, Gene Roundy and Mark Whitney.