Up, up and away
I'm not exactly sure I want to go into space. I probably do, but I'm not the biggest fan of flying, and the thought of going 75 miles above the earth's surface makes me a little queasy. Then again, once you're at 37,000 feet you might as well be in space, and looking at the designs for Spaceport America, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space terminal, which is currently being built in the New Mexico desert, I might have to jettison my vertigo. Space travel for the masses (well, the super-wealthy masses) really seems to be on its way…
New Mexico has a long history of involvement with the space industry (and aliens, of course, depending on who you believe). It was here that the X Prize Cup took place in 2004, demonstrating Burt Rutan's amazing SpaceShipOne to the world and convincing Richard Branson that civilian space travel was a viable business.
In late 2006, there was a great post on Been-Seen describing the plans for SpaceShipTwo that could fly between London and Sydney in half an hour (fantastic thought). A year and a half later, it seems things have moved on.
Last year, the URS Corporation (a leading design and engineering firm) and British designers Forster + Partners unveiled the winning design for the new 100,000 square-foot spaceport in Las Cruces. Construction starts this year and will cost about $31 million. The port will include Virgin Galactic training facilities and lounges, as well as a maintenance hangar for two WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft and five SpaceShipTwo spacecraft. Tickets are a steal at $200,000 and flights are projected to start as early as 2009. Beam me up, Scotty. RM
Images: © Spaceport America