Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Update on Spaceport America

As you may or may not know New Mexico is building the nation's first purpose-built commercial spaceport. The name of the project is Spaceport America and is a $198 million venture that will be around 18,000 acres. The land is located north of Las Cruces and east of Truth or Consequences. The spaceport is being funded by New Mexico and has been in the works for quite some time. It is hoped that Spaceport America will serve as an orbital launch center as well as a suborbital hub. The first flight will come from Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic in 2009. Virgin has already collected its $200,000 per-person fee from the first 100 passengers.

Though the spaceport is well into development is still has a few big hurdles to surpass. First they have architectural designs that need to be finalized, then there is the issue of an environmental impact study, and New Mexico has to vote on a .25% tax increase in Sierra County.

The project has to be paid for somehow and New Mexico plans to do this by adding .25% in taxes for Sierra County which will be voted for on April 22. The upcoming April tax vote, if approved, would lead to the creation of a spaceport district that could spend county-collected revenue on the project. Proponents say that the increase in value of the land around the spaceport, the increase in jobs, the flow of tourists would make the tax increase very minuscule.

Also an environmental impact statement for Spaceport America also be completed in order to obtain a Federal Aviation Administration spaceport license that would allow construction work on the spaceport to begin. It will have to be proven that the Spaceport will be environmentally friendly, preserves the frontier history of the area, and coexists with the existing region as the spaceport absorbs some of its land. The predictions are that the Spaceport will easily pass the test but officials don't really know what will happen.
And the final stumbling block will be perfecting the architecture and engineering plans for the Spaceport. Last August, a team of U.S. and British architects and designers were selected to design the terminal and hangar which are projected to cost about $31 million, and will provide a destination experience for visitors to Spaceport America. The hanger is designed mainly to hold Virgin Galactic's White Knight 2 and SpaceShipTwo, though they hope to accommodate any possible launches.

Steven Landeene the executive director of Spaceport America says that they plan to "Create a spaceport facility that's environmentally friendly, having a look and feel that's unique and like nothing that's ever been done before ... something that has a memorable and iconic type of global attraction to it. We've got a big project ahead of us." And hopefully they will complete their project as it is supposed to be. I would imagine that with a spaceport dedicated solely to commercial spaceflight that it will create a revolution in the private space industry. I should be interesting to see what happens, and as we all know, only time will tell.

The Fool


Swubird said...


Wow. I love this whole spaceport project idea. I had never heard of it. However, I can't imagine that the EIR will be a slam dunk. Noise abatement will probably be a big issue. Desert wildlife and noise don't mix too well. Hazardous chemical storage and spills will be another issue. Rocket fuel is extremely dangerous to the environment. And potential air quality impacts will be carefully scrutinized. This thing could get tied up for quite a while.

You should find out who is the administering agency for this project, and get on their mailing list for updates. Those would make for interesting posts. What do you think?

The Fool said...

Good point Swubird, I would think that the EIR will certainly be the most difficult obstacle. The tax increase has already been pre approved and the engineering aspect will just take some time. Hey and thanks for the mailing list idea, I'll look into it right away.

The Fool

Bob Johnson said...

I love it, I also agree with swubird, try to get on the mailing list of some sort, make it your own.

Max-e said...

Sounds like an interesting project and trust Richard Branson to be at the forefront - his philiosophy of "Screw it, let's do it", has taken him far.
I agree that the environmental issuers will be a big factor. From our forebears totally messing up the environment in years gone by the world has gone to the other extreme, but there is no reason why the development and the environment cannot coexist, with some creative planning

Sherer said...

Thats a great idea, might as well be the first nation to have a legit spaceport.

www.coruña-3d.com said...

This won't succeed in reality, that is exactly what I think.

Generic Cialis said...

It is quite cool that they are building that kind of space port. I would like to see it