Virgin Galactic may be spending over $300 million on a commercial space vehicle, but only now has it actually got a place to land. Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, broke ground in New Mexico on June 19th. The 110,000 square foot facility, designed by Foster and Partners, will cost around $200 million and is expected to host the first commercial space flight by 2011.
After a successful sole glide test of its SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic’s ambitious Space tourism project has achieved yet another milestone – the inauguration of its Spaceport in New Mexico. Virgin Galactic CEO, Sir Richard Branson officially opened the floodgates for all spacecraft to take off at the Spaceport America on October 25. The new space hub features a two-mile long runway that can support any form of spacecraft currently in existence.
Designed by the team behind the innovative Beijing and Hong Kong airports, the Spaceport has an appropriately futuristic look, but its most significant achievement is environmental. Largely buried in the desert sand, the space terminal uses earth tubes for cooling (reducing costs by 50-70%), solar energy for power and has its own wastewater recycling plant.
In addition to the completed runway, the terminal hangar which is capable of stowing away five spacecraft and two guiding places is nearly complete. Branson says that Virgin Galactic’s recent tests continue to push its goals of a space tourism future.
Since getting an opportunity to visit is nearly impossible, you can probably satisfy your curiosity about this Spaceport by watching this video.