Cochise County Could Become Arizona’s Working Space Center

View facing east toward the Dos Cabezas Mountains from a point just east of Cochise, Arizona. In the forground is desert shrubland surrounding the Willcox Playa, the whitish/tan section in the middle. [Photo by The Old Pueblo/Wikimedia Commons]

The Boeing Company is holding a public meeting at the Willcox Community Center on November 13 at 6:00 p.m. to discuss plans to potentially use the Willcox Playa as a landing site for its Starliner spacecraft. The Willcox Playa is a large dry lake located in the northern region of Sulphur Springs Valley.

Boeing representatives will talk about what the Starliner project means for the local community and answer questions.

The Starliner is designed to accommodate passengers for missions to low-Earth orbit.

Cochise County appears to be a potential growth site for the space industry. As an example, in 2017, World View, a start-up space tourism balloon company reached out to the City of Benson in order to launch the company’s balloons from there.

Benson is approximately 35 miles to the south of Willcox, in Cochise County.

Related article: Goldwater To Appeal Pima County, World View Ruling

Currently World View is located in Pima County. According to minutes from a 2017 City of Benson meeting: “Worldview likes the (Benson) airport and they’ve launched several high-altitude balloons from there, adding it has been going really well. Mr. Hamilton then stated Pima County built Worldview a facility in Tucson that they are leasing, but the problem is when they want to launch, due to the controlled airspace, Tucson will only give them 15 minutes and they need 4 or 5 hours, whereas in Benson, they usually come in at 9 or 10 at night and begin setting up, and then they launch the next morning at dawn and after cleaning up, they are gone by 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. Mr. Hamilton stated this has been a very positive relationship.”

Boeing announced early in November that it had “cleared a crucial test on the way to returning the United States to human spaceflight launch capabilities by completing a successful pad abort test of the CST-100 Starliner.

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