A mockup of the Virgin Galactic Spaceship
Richard Branson’s newest endeavor, Virgin Galactic will soon be the first company to launch a facility to allow rich tourists to take off commercially in spacecrafts that fly high above the stratosphere.
Although the commercial space tourism idea is several years old (and Virgin has already invested USD $300 million to develop a vehicle for this purpose). Only now has the work begun to build the first ever commercial space port.
Dubbed Spaceport America, it is an 110,000 square foot facility in New Mexico, USA which is designed by Foster and Partners. The facility will cost a sky-high price of USD $200 million to make and will be ready by 2011.
The facility will sport a futuristic look and house a large runway that is 10,000 feet long and 200 feet wide. The public viewing gallery will have an area of 4000 square feet. The total site including buildings, runways and aprons will occupy an area of 670,000 square feet.
The spaceport will be completed in 18 months. A ticket aboard a Virgin spaceship is speculatively priced at USD $ 200,000.
The spaceport boasts of being totally self-reliant and environment friendly with its foundation buried deep in the sands on New Mexico. It will use earth tubes for cooling, solar energy for power and its own wastewater recycling plant to recycle water.
However, Virgin Galactic will have a hard time justifying the large offset of greenhouse gas emissions from its spaceship to environmentalists when it begins operations in 2011 or 2012.