Spaceport America Closer to Reality

If you’re thinking about booking flight on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip Two, launching a payload with UP Aerospace or Armadillo Aerospace, or can’t wait to watch the Rocket Racing League, you’ll be happy to know New Mexico’s Spaceport America is two steps closer to becoming a reality and not just a dream. An environmental impact study on the facility was completed and approved, which set the stage for the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to be able to issue a launch license to the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA). The license is for both vertical and horizontal launches. “These two governmental approvals are the next steps along the road to a fully operational commercial spaceport,” said NMSA Executive Director Steven Landeene. Now, with license in hand, construction can begin on the futuristic-looking spaceport facility. Is the future and potential of commercial/personal spaceflight actually getting closer?

Several launches of smaller commercial rockets have already launched from the New Mexico site since April 2007, but now the spaceport can get ready for the “bigger” commercial rockets and commercial spacecraft that will launch the first paying customers in to suborbital space.

Landeene said bids will go out in January for the roads, runway and security buildings. The terminal and hangar are still in the design phase so those bids will go out sometime in the spring. “We could not pursue anything on site until this record of decision was received,” said Landeene. The NMSA currently projects vertical launch activity to increase in 2009 and construction to also begin in 2009 with the terminal and hangar facility for horizontal launches completed by late 2010.

Cross section of Spaceport America.  Courtesy of NMSA
Cross section of Spaceport America. Courtesy of NMSA

“We are on track to begin construction in the first quarter of 2009, and have our facility completed as quickly as possible,” he said. The NMSA is expected to sign a lease agreement with Virgin Galactic before the end of 2008.

“It’s an important day for New Mexico and the nation as Spaceport America now adds to the United States’ launch infrastructure,” said Daniela Glick, Chair of the NMSA Board. The NMSA says Spaceport America is now positioned to become the nation’s leading commercial spaceport facility. Spaceport America has been working closely with leading aerospace firms such as Virgin Galactic, Lockheed Martin, Rocket Racing Inc./Armadillo Aerospace, UP Aerospace, Microgravity Enterprises and Payload Specialties.

Sources: KFOX TV, NMSA

18 Replies to “Spaceport America Closer to Reality”

  1. This is so awesome!! I wish I could get a job or intern with them. I wonder what they look for. I’m glad they are closer to finally being completed. Maybe they can stimulate space exploration and get America interested in space again.

  2. Early 1930`s America had the building of the Hoover Dam as a focus for a big psychological boost through US technological innovation in the post-crash era. This could do the same, barring media idiocy.

  3. This is super cool. Of course it’s been in the works for a couple years, but looks like it will happen before the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero. The last article discussed how the Wright brothers started human flight 100 years ago. We’re starting this century with commercial human spaceflight, and Burt Rutan is the new Wright brothers. Hey Victor Sheckles – any comments about those American laggards?

  4. Fantastic! I hope this is a presentiment of things to come. If a time could come when the Mrs. and I could go to space before our eventual demise, I would consider myself as greatly blessed (religious notation inserted her) as my Grandparents (both born in 1900) were when they witnessed the Moon Landing (in capitals, because I consider it one of the most important historical events of all time), By the way, (for those of fundamental persuasion) neither of my grandparents had the slightest idea the launches/results were faked.

  5. Meh, bank on the media being idiots.
    One mans “New age of commercial space development!” is another mans “Holiday camp for millionaires!”

    Guess which headline will grace the front pages?

  6. It will only bennifit the wealthy. Its not likely any Joe Shmoe will be able to afford a ticket anytime soon.

  7. >>Its not likely any Joe Shmoe will be able to afford a ticket anytime soon.

    It was a long time before the average Joe was able to afford tickets to travel by plane. This was true for ocean liners as well.

    The problem is we need a means to develop less expensive methods. Normally this might take a war or mass immigration… but that wont be likely for space.

    Flying a few millionaires will probably not bring about the advent of commercial space. But it will help spread the idea of this as a viable market and keep us in the practice till a more powerful driving factor comes along.

    Its far better than nothing.

  8. I find it refreshing that the Spaceport Concept artist appears to have leveraged his design off of a stylizied Native American squash blossom motif. This motif I am told by a Navajo friend is indeed a fertility symbol from the South Western Indian Cultures and therefore doubly fitting since this venture is both launched in New Mexico and hopefully will give fruitful rise to all things commercially space related and make the dreams of many of us in the Aerospace industry come true. It is amusing that some find it objectionable.

  9. Im so glad that space exploration is taking off.
    Now its not so long anymore unless another war comes along.

  10. First of all I want to pay tribute to the late Leonard R. Sugerman who I am proud to be able to say was for a while, until his sad demise; my great friend and mentor. He was one of the leading individuals to propose the idea of a Space Port just North of his home town, Las Cruces in New Mexico which has now become Spaceport America. It is people like Len Sugerman that make things happen. He was simply a very humble public servant, but through his efforts your nation has another spaceport for the future.

    “It will only benefit the wealthy. Its not likely any Joe Shmoe will be able to afford a ticket anytime soon”

    It is only through the efforts of many different individuals that everyone, yes, everyone, has a worthwhile job. Instead of always bringing jealousy to the fore, why not give a thought to all the others that have and will have for the future, great, interesting jobs, that lift their eyes to the greater potential for everyone to surpass their own abilities. The jobs include, design, construction, marketing, selling, building, producing…….the spacecrafts, the spaceport, all the ancillary equipment and support materials.

    If all you see is something to envy, you have lost sight of why we are so successful as a species. It is because we work together to enable others to achieve. Count the thousands, yes, thousands of jobs it took to get a man on the moon. If all you see is a single man standing there, you have lost sight of the fact that whomever achieves, has got there via the work, often exciting and imaginative work, of all those that, through being able to enjoy a fine job and associated lifestyle, made it all possible.

    I salute the Leonard Sugermans of life, it is they that, through their hard, unstinting work ethic, have made it possible for all the rest to enjoy a much better lifestyle and to achieve beyond their dreams.

  11. i wonder if the novelty will wear off and this will be a white elephant. After all the flights are just going up and down. Once they have something doing multiple orbits i think things will be more interesting.

  12. Allen,

    Foresight is a wonderful thing. Everything humankind has achieved over the centuries has been one step at a time. You have to place down investment first and then find out if it works. Failure is a wonderful part of the discovery of anything useful. Until you have failed, you will not know how to recognise success. So, in a way, yes, you are correct, the spaceport may well become a white elephant, but along the way, it will help the development of the next great industrial revolution by providing the foundations for many to try and see if….. they can do, whatever…. Neither you nor I can say with any certainty that they will succeed. But what we can say with absolute certainty is that without the space port and the chance to try, they will never get the chance to try and find out.

    Investment is a very long term aspect of a successful society and nation. It provides the chance for others to try and succeed. Without it you would live in a sterile unsuccessful nation where every time someone stepped forward to ask the question, if we try, might we succeed, the answer comes back, we must not try in case we fail…

    Spaceport America is essential as it will provide the chance for others to try, regardless of whether they succeed or fail.

    Please, think about that.

  13. the cost of sub orbital,and orbital space flight can be minimiumized using the simplest and
    most low tech rockets that can do the job,
    and by doing away with cost over head using a system that can be operated by the smallest number of staff, and crew

  14. An old adage – success follows failure.
    Thomas Edison conducted over 1000 experiments, all of which failed. But eventually he did succeed in creating something called a light bulb.
    The makers of WD-40 tried 39 times before they came with a successful formula. Same with Formula 409. Were those folks known as failures? Not hardly.
    After all, Edison only succeeded once out of more than 1000 tries. Not a very good batting average, but he sure hit a grand slam that one time!

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