Apr 17, 2023 - News

Brook Park considers an astronaut training facility

Illustration of Cleveland's Guardians of Traffic statue wearing an astronaut suit.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Brook Park, an inner ring suburb on Cleveland's southwest side, might not be front of mind when you think of outer space research and development.

The intrigue: If the Brook Park City Council formally approves the sale of 12.8 acres of city-owned land to the British company Blue Abyss, that tract could become home to the world's foremost facility for astronaut training.

Why it matters: Northeast Ohio is already home to NASA's Glenn Research Center and has been on the cutting edge of microgravity research for 60 years. The Blue Abyss facility would solidify the region as an aerospace R&D hub.

Details: The centerpiece of the proposed $200 million to $250 million facility directly north of Hopkins Airport would be a pool 17 times larger than an Olympic swimming pool, which could simulate zero-gravity and other extreme environments for astronauts, deep sea divers and others.

  • At a presentation to the council last week, Tom Chema, the Cleveland-based project manager, said a long-arm human centrifuge would also be built on the site.
  • Plus: A 150-room boutique hotel would be built to accommodate long-term stays for the facility's trainees and researchers.

What they're saying: "Currently there's a push to privatize the commercialization of deep space exploration and colonization," Chema said. "You've heard, I'm sure, of SpaceX and others. But there has been very little attention paid to the human element."

  • "There's nobody out there other than Blue Abyss who wants to do that missing part, identifying and training people to go into deep space. We want to do it here in Brook Park."

By the numbers: When fully operational, the Blue Abyss training center and connected hotel are expected to employ nearly 200 full-time employees.

  • Chema told the council that spinoff economic development, including vendors for the facility and hospitality for employees and visitors, was virtually guaranteed.

State of play: Blue Abyss last month agreed to buy four parcels on Aerospace Parkway, a five-minute drive from NASA Glenn, for nearly $800,000.

  • The council heard a detailed presentation last week and unanimously recommended that the full council vote to approve the sale.

What's next: Council's next opportunity to vote is at its meeting tomorrow.

  • Construction could begin in spring 2024, and the facility could open in fall 2025.

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