Dowagiac still in the running as MAMA finalizes site plans for new command center

Published 2:47 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2020

DOWAGIAC — Dreams of Dowagiac hosting a space command center could come true as early as next year.

According to the Michigan Aerospace Manufacturing Association, the organization will announce the findings of its site selection process for a new command and control center in January 2021.

Dowagiac was listed as one of the potential locations for MAMA’s new space launch command center in Michigan. Other potential locations include Harrison Township, Marquette, Sault Ste. Marie and Traverse City.

MAMA is a member-supported organization based out of Sterling Heights that serves the interests of Michigan’s aerospace and defense manufacturing firms and promotes Michigan’s aerospace and defense manufacturing community within the global industry.

The Michigan command center will support the planned satellite launch sites near Marquette, MI and Oscoda, Michigan. Collectively known as the Michigan Launch Initiative, these three sites will bring an estimated 40,000 new jobs, while solidifying Michigan’s place as a premier commercial aerospace destination, according to the release.

The location of a space command center was the latest portion of MAMA’s Michigan Launch Initiative program, which focuses on developing a spaceport facility for the launch of rockets carrying small and mid-sized satellites into low Earth orbit from horizontal and vertical platforms, and a command center to manage post-launch satellite operations.

According to the release, site selection is based on many factors, including existing commercial and public infrastructure, geographic and terrestrial mapping, living standards and workforce development. The selection process has been led by spaceport consultants BRPH and Kimley-Horn. As development on all sites commences, MAMA will conduct extensive environmental studies and work with consultants to address community concerns.

“MAMA is honored to continue to lead space initiatives for the benefit of our state,” said Executive Director Gavin Brown. “There’s no doubt that Michigan can – and will – be one of the leaders in the commercial and U.S. governmental space industry. We have the human talent, the manufacturing prowess, the critical infrastructure and the technical expertise to position our state as a leader in this dynamic field.”

The Dowagiac Municipal Airport, which could potentially host the command center, features a 4,700-foot runway and a new 1,080 square-foot terminal, with construction on a six T hangar currently underway.

“This airport is an asset,” said airport manager Oscar Azevedo during an October interview. “It plays a big part in trying to attract business and tourists into town. There’s a fairly large demand for airspace and aircraft which will generate revenue for the airport.”

The Michigan Launch Initiative is working to obtain licensing approvals for the Oscoda horizontal launch site and the Marquette vertical launch site, which could see operations begin as early as late 2023 or early 2024. With an emphasis on the environment, MLI will utilize new “green” propellant technology to fuel the rockets into orbit. MLI also will focus on the selection and development of a command and control center and the further development of a space ecosystem in Michigan to support the launch sites.