Alabama Space Authority meets for the first time

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HUNTSVILLE Ala. -- After four years of trying to pass the legislation, the Alabama Space Authority held its initial meeting in Huntsville.

The CEO of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, Deborah Barnhart, was elected the vice chairman.

"The mission of the Space Authority is to galvanize all of the capabilities that we have across the state of Alabama," Barnhart said. "In aerospace and space travel, and to optimize the strength of those capabilities."

She says the group will investigate the needs in the aerospace industry across the state.

Chief of Staff for the Federal Aviation Administration 's Commercial Space Transportation Office spoke at the meeting about the future of commercial space travel, including the building of spaceports, that will serve as airports into space.

Alabama State Senator Gerald Dial was elected the chairman of the group.

"Somebody in the Southeast is going to get a spaceport. It's going to rival what Atlanta airport has done for Atlanta," Dial said. "Why shouldn't it be Alabama? Why shouldn't it be over here? We're the space center of the world."

The authority says commercial space travel, and space tourism, are the next big advancements to expect.

"Space tourism is going to be a reality, I even believe in my own lifetime," Barnhart said. "I fully expect, I'll probably be a little older, but I fully expect to be able to go one day to take a flight around the Earth, just to see some orbital sunrises and sunsets, and then go home for cocktails."

The group says the public can expect a lot more from the Alabama space authority in the future.