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August 15, 2023

Loring developer in talks to bring aerospace startup to former Air Force base

Hangar interior Photo / Jim Neuger The former Loring Air Force Base, now Loring Commerce Centre, includes this arch hangar. When completed inn 1949, the 106,750-square-foot building was the largest arch roof structure in the country, capable of servicing two B-36 bombers simultaneously.

Green 4 Maine LLC, a development company at the former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, is in negotiations to land a new tenant there — an aerospace startup that hopes to revolutionize air travel.

Discussions with HyperSpace Propulsion Inc. come as it raises capital for the engineering, design, manufacturing and the first flight tests of a hypersonic flight demonstrator by late 2024. Production is planned for the U.S. Department of Defense in 2025.

If a deal is reached, the company would assemble "spaceplane" parts from throughout the U.S. at Loring, Scott Hinkel, president of Green 4 Maine, told Mainebiz by phone on Tuesday.

Hinkel said the goal is to reach an agreement by the end of this year, adding, "It's wild. It's happening quickly and the revitalization is under way."

Green 4 Maine owns 450 acres at Loring with around 40 commercial and industrial tenants. The former base, about 10 miles east of Caribou, is now known as Loring Commerce Centre.

“With an agreement in place, HyperSpace Propulsion would become the lead tenant within Green 4 Maine’s National Aerospace and Space Complex Center, thus supporting revitalization of Northern Maine and the communities surrounding the former base,” Green 4 Maine said in Tuesday’s announcement.
Hinkel is leading the discussions with Richard H. Lugg, CEO and founder of HyperSpace Propulsion, whose website lists a Portland address. Other details, including the number of HyperSpace employees, were not immediately available.

Lugg, a 35-year aerospace and defense industry veteran whose LinkedIn profile shows he is based in Los Angeles, has filed 32 patents on behalf of the company's technology for global space transport.

HyperSpace is developing space-soaring vehicles, branded as Spacestar, that would be capable of flying passengers or cargo to any destination on Earth in under two hours, runway to runway. 

“Point-to-point travel is becoming a major need and it is great to know that Maine will be in the thick of it, thanks to the work of Green 4 Maine,” Terry Shehata, director of the Maine Space Grant Consortium, told Mainebiz. 

Bigger picture 

Green 4 Maine said an agreement with HyperSpace would enhance the formation of the planned Maine Space Complex, a quasi-public body established by the Maine Legislature.

The aim is to build vertical and horizontal launch sites, space data analytics networks and operations, and space R&D operations at Brunswick Landing and at Loring for manufacturing and launching small satellites into space.

Carl Flora, president and CEO of the Loring Development Authority, welcomed news of Green 4 Maine’s negotiations with HyperSpace Propulsion.

"This ambitious project can utilize many of Loring's existing facilities,” he told Mainebiz. “It has the potential to transform the local economy and be an important step in Maine's efforts to develop the aerospace industry.”

Steve Levesque, a Greenville-based consultant under contract to lead business development at Loring Commerce Centre, said, “This is another great example of how Loring is envisioned to be a platform for future aerospace activities. We hope that the negotiations are fruitful.”

While the former Air Force base currently has a private airport, Levesque is seeking to gain designation as a public airport as part of a plan to transform Loring into a regional aviation and aerospace hub. (Read more about those plans in the next print edition of Mainebiz, out on Monday, Aug. 21.)

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