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Industry group says Michigan could lose out on space race without aggressive action

U.S. Department of Defense
U.S. Air Force satellite launch

The Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association has been pushing for a satellite launch site to be built in the state, saying it will give Michigan access to a trillion dollar industry.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer in February scrapped two million dollars in funding to survey Michigan for a potential satellite launch site. That move leaves the project in limbo.

Gavin Brown is with the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturers Association. He said other states, including  Hawaii, Alaska, and New Jersey are already beginning aggressive campaigns to build launch facilities.

“I’m concerned because the aggressive nature, it’s real. I don’t think a lot of folks understand that the folks that can get there first are going to get a bulk of the business.”

Brown said Michigan is well suited for what he calls “polar orbit” satellite launches and would be able to get both commercial and Department of Defense contracts.

“So if you build it, and I’ll tell you some of these companies approached me saying if you have a launch facility operational we will actually commit x amount of launches to you in a letter of intent immediately.”

But, he said, the state needs to invest the funding soon to determine a suitable site.

Republican State Representative Tristan Cole represents five northern Michigan counties. His district has been put forward as a potential site for a launch facility. He said there is still momentum for bringing a spaceport to Michigan.

“This would bring millions of dollars and more importantly good, well-paying jobs and career paths for young people and adults here with the residents of northern Michigan. I think this is a big deal, this is a good deal, and this is win for Michigan.”

Cole said he thinks the Governor’s move to scrap the funding is just another northern Michigan issue that is being left behind by the new administration.

A spokesperson for the Governor’s office said Whitmer is focused on solving real problems for all Michiganders including fixing the roads and cleaning up drinking water.