Photo: Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic has promised to launch its pioneer spaceflight sometime next year aboard its spacecraft Spaceship Two. Once this flight takes off, it could mean the start of a whole new wave of commercial space tourism—and all of those space flights will likely leave from America’s shiny new spaceport: Spaceport America.
Located in New Mexico, Spaceport America is “the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport.”
Built and operated by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, Spaceport America officially opened in 2010, but the public areas aren’t slated for completion until 2013.
The terminal and hangar facility, designed by British architectural firm Foster + Partners, is sleek and modern, yet it blends seamlessly into the arid New Mexico landscape. It’s also high-tech and environmentally-friendly.
Overall, the project will cost $209 million.
Spaceport America is located just west of the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range in the Jornada del Muerto desert basin in New Mexico. It's about 90 miles north of El Paso and 55 miles north of Las Cruces.
Spaceport America officially opened in October 2011, but it's not fully completed yet. The public visitor facilities are slated for completion sometime next year.
The design of the terminal/hangar facility is incredibly high-tech and environmentally-friendly, with solar panels on the roof and an internal air treatment plant.
The site will be able to accommodate both vertical and horizontal takeoffs from space launch vehicles. Twelve flight tests have already been successfully hosted here since 2006.
Virgin Galactic will base its worldwide operational headquarters at Spaceport America. The company holds a 20-year lease agreement on the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space facility.
Spaceport America hosts public launches on a regular basis. Visit their website, SpaceportAmerica.com, for details.
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