The bill's sponsor, Sen. Gerald Dial, R-Lineville, said the bill would give the state a head start in the race for the limited number of remaining licenses the Federal Aviation Administration is offering for private spaceports.
"If we let another state get ahead of us, we lose our opportunity," Dial said.
Dial has long argued that Alabama should take advantage of the small but growing private spaceflight industry. Last year, her persuaded the Legislature to pass a resolution to create Spaceport Authority to study the idea of a private space industry in Alabama. Dial's new bill would replace that organization with a new Spaceport Authority within the state's Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, with power to seek grants and a mandate to study spaceport sites and seek a spaceport license.
The bill generated some skepticism from lawmakers. Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Daphne, said it reminded him of the supersonic jet debate of the 1970s.
"If we can't fly a supersonic plane between Paris and New York and make money, we're not going to make money from a spaceport," he said.
Other lawmakers said they hoped their districts would be good candidates for a spaceport. Dial said his own eastern Alabama district would probably not be a good candidate due to its proximity to Atlanta and its air traffic.