Ground has been broken for the construction of Spaceport America in Upham, Sierra County, New Mexico, USA After getting their FAA license and securing funding, the 27 square mile development project has officially begun for the world’s first commercial spaceport. Expected to be completed in 18 months, the facility will house Virgin Galactic’s space tourism business and other businesses working in the commercial space arena will find a home. The spaceport is designed to launch rockets for suborbital human flights.
Initially New Mexico’s cost of development is about 2 Steve Landeene, executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, says that the costs will come down as more civilians are involved in projects in space developing new medicines and solar power in space. Initially New Mexico’s cost for development is $198 million.
Virgin Galactic is investing more than $300 million in developing a new space launch system that will operate from the site after it opens.
The spaceship hitches a ride up to around 50,000 feet attached to a specially designed carrier aircraft. When released from the aircraft, it is designed to hurtle into suborbital space powered by a rocket.
Work will now start on a suitably space-age terminal and hangar building deigned by Foster and Partners to blend in with the desert flora here, while housing rocket-based spacecraft and all the safety hazards that entails.
The facility will include a 3,000m (10,000-ft) runway long enough to ensure the safety of the planes on the tarmac for the world’s largest planes. As the diagram of the facility shows solar technology is vital to keeping true to Branson’s green philosophy.
White Knight Two is expected to be the carrier craft for SpaceShip Two It will be unveiled at the Oshkosh airshow in Wisconsin in July. SpaceShip. Two should begin test glides in December.
The location of the spaceport for its remote location. New Mexico brings other advantages. The state proudly boasts that it has about 350 days of sun each year, meaning that unlike NASA at Cape Canaveral, weather should not often affect launches, and the spaceport’s neighbor the White Sands missile testing range ensures the air space overhead is already a no-fly zone.
Target date for the first tourist flight of Virgin Galactic soon after the spaceport is completed. The inaugural flight should carry Sir Richard Branson, his family and spaceship designer Burt Rutan on a sub-orbital ride within two years. There is a waiting list of 300 civilians who are willing to pay about $200,000 for the privilege of experiencing six minutes of weightlessness during the two-hour flight.
Excerpts courtesy of News.bbc.co.uki/science/nature
Excerpts courtesy of Reuters.com/article/scienceNews
Image courtesy of Travelblog.bcaa.com/spaceport-america
Image courtesy of Airport-technology.com/projects/spaceport
Image file courtesy of images.google.com/airport-technology.com/spaceportimages