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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Two proposals received for space port in Ceiba

Puerto Rico Ports Authority Executive Director Joel A. Pizá Batiz

By The Star Staff

Puerto Rico Ports Authority Executive Director Joel A. Pizá Batiz announced Wednesday that the request for proposals (RFP) process for a space port operator at José Aponte de la Torre Airport in Ceiba concluded with the receipt of two proposals.

Pizá Batiz described the proposals received as a good turnout, considering that the RFP issuance is a new one for Puerto Rico. He noted that 11 aerospace and related services companies had shown interest in participating in the development of an aerospace port on the island for the possible launch of spacecraft, balloons and nanosatellites.

“With the receipt of these two proposals, we enter other phases of the project such as the analysis of each of these proposals, the selection of a preferred proponent, the eventual awarding of the project and the subsequent signing of the contract,” Pizá Batiz said. “We expect that between the summer and September 2024, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will grant the government of Puerto Rico the space port license. With this license, the Authority will have concluded, in concurrence with FAA, the environmental and safety evaluations necessary for such an operation at the Ceiba airport.”

The Ports chief, who is also president of the Aerospace and Aeronautical Industry Council of Puerto Rico, added that “this is a project of multiple benefits due to the potential that this industry has worldwide and, particularly, in Puerto Rico due to its privileged geographical location, and the necessary infrastructure for the development of the aerospace industry, as well as various incentive programs to attract this type of industry.”

He indicated that Ports should select the preferred proponent for the proposed space port in about a month.

RFI issued for drone facilities at airports

Ports also issued a request for interest (RFI) to evaluate the feasibility of establishing and expanding drone facilities and operations at the island’s airports.

Ports Authority Director Joel A. Pizá Batiz announced Wednesday that the agency is seeking statements of interest from researchers, developers and manufacturers of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) and significant components thereof, and drone service providers.

“The preceding intends to evaluate the feasibility of establishing or expanding UAV facilities and operations in Puerto Rico,” the document notes.

Besides overseeing the island’s airports, Ports has access to industrial parks in Mayagüez, Humacao and Ponce. The UAV industry is growing and evolving rapidly. UAVs have a variety of uses, including military weaponry to varied commercial applications in agriculture, mining and resources, construction, energy and utilities, disaster relief, humanitarian relief, search and rescue, fisheries protection, mapping, media and entertainment (including toys), and many other fields.

“Drones are completely reshaping, revolutionizing, and transforming all of these fields, promoting efficiency gains and safety benefits,” the petition notes. “Market researchers and analysts project that the drone industry will grow to over $50 billion in the United States by 2035. Undeniably, this industry can help drive economic growth. For that reason, it represents an attractive opportunity for Puerto Rico, which seeks to create a robust and resilient future by, among other things, developing its economy and fostering an innovation environment that places the island at the forefront of science and technology.”

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