Launching the New Age
It is probably immensely difficult for most people to imagine that we are close enough to the “space age” to be in the process of constructing a commercial spaceport on Earth.
And yet, with Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, designed with the needs of the commercial space business in mind, concepts like space tourism have become more real than ever before.
Under construction in the State of New Mexico, Spaceport America describes their vision as being to “lead the world in enabling safe and economical access to space through collaborative innovation to enhance the quality of life for all mankind.”
Likely to cost the New Mexico government around $200m, upon completion, Spaceport America’s commercial spaceport in New Mexico will offer services to companies such as Virgin Galactic which are working within the space tourism sector.
New Mexico’s weather and wide-open spaces have been ideal for the aerospace industry since Robert Goddard, the Father of Modern Rocketry, began conducting research in Roswell in the 1930s, followed by Wernher von Braun in the 1940s, and NASA in the 1980s.
Spaceport America capitalizes on the fact that a number of avant-garde entrepreneurs are developing both vertical and horizontal launch vehicles towards exploring commercial space travel opportunities.
The space-age terminal and hangar building which will form part of the spaceport’s facility have been designed by Foster and Partners in a manner that enables these buildings to blend in with the desert scrubland here, while housing rocket-based spacecraft and all the safety hazards that need to be taken into account.
The location for the spaceport has been selected given its distance from any sizable populations. Additionally, given that New Mexico has about 350 days of sun each year, weather changes are not likely to affect launches. Also, the White Sands missile testing range being located next to the spaceport ensures the air space overhead is already a no-fly zone, and facilitates logistical ease for companies operating out of Spaceport America.
Mission & Goals
Spaceport America states its mission as being “To develop and operate the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport to attract the future space industry, deliver prosperity through public and private cooperation, and inspire the next generation.”
Among Spaceport America’s top priorities, providing state-of-the-art, cost effective, multi-modal, and flexible infrastructure to serve current and future customers, while showcasing environmental leadership figures right up top.
In terms of operations, Spaceport America aims to deliver safe, sustainable, world-class operations providing a differentiated customer experience and economic development, tourism, and education through partnerships with future space leaders towards fostering the commercial space industry in New Mexico.
Spaceport America also aspires to help increase awareness concerning the commercial space travel sector, by inspiring the next generation of business and technology leaders through applied educational opportunities
In creating a “world first” Spaceport America will stimulate domestic and international tourism in New Mexico, and will seek to maximize the collective economic and social benefits derived from the operation of Spaceport America for the citizens of New Mexico and across the country.
Spaceport America has forged partnerships with a number of strategic companies, including Virgin Galactic, the world’s first spaceline and Spaceport America’s anchor tenant, UP Aerospace, Inc. the first company to launch a commercial payload at Spaceport America and Lockheed Martin, one of America’s top aerospace companies.
While Virgin Galactic plans to create a five-star destination experience to accommodate customers, their families, and space enthusiasts at Spaceport America, where they will operate their Spaceship II and White Knight II spacecraft, UP Aerospace offers complete payload recovery and a wide range of tracking, telemetry, and avionics options.
Additionally, Spaceport America’s proximity to White Sands Missile Testing Range is a tremendous advantage towards serving Spaceport America’s research, development and testing needs. Being the only place in the United States, other than the White House, with restricted airspace to infinity, the 3,200 square mile White Sands facility is the largest open-air/over-land missile range in the Western hemisphere.
Microgravity Enterprises, Inc., located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and focused on developing affordable rocket flights for commercial and educational purposes, along with the X PRIZE Cup, an annual air and space expo designed to bring together all sections of the aerospace industry to demonstrate their capabilities for the general public are other strategic partners.