Spaceport America -
Spaceport America is the first spaceport in the world built-from-the-ground-up to host private enterprise, intended to be the launch-pad of the global commercial spaceflight industry and the second space age. The $209 million project has attracted worldwide attention because of its bold premise, stunning architecture and the fact that it is home to the world’s first commercial passenger spaceline company, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.
Designed, built and operated by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA), Spaceport America is nearing completion of the first phase of construction, which includes basic operational infrastructure such as an airfield, launch pads, terminal / hangar facility, emergency response capabilities, utilities and roadways. The site will be capable of accommodating the activities of both vertical and horizontal takeoff space launch vehicles, serving as the base for pre-flight and post-flight activities, and providing a tourism experience for interested visitors and spectators. The spaceport also presents a unique opportunity to excite students regarding space technology and the underlying science and mathematics.
In the early 1990s, a group of space-minded New Mexicans saw the potential future of the commercial space industry and joined together to form the Southwest Space Task Force to promote the State of New Mexico as a location to develop an FAA-approved spaceport. From this early effort, the New Mexico Legislature first established the Office for Space Commercialization in 1994. In June of that year, the group formally identified the parcel of state land that would eventually become the site of Spaceport America.
The spaceport effort pursued various potential markets, ranging from capsule return to single-stage-to-orbit vehicles, and the site was even selected by Lockheed Martin as the home of the X-33 VentureStar reusable spaceplane. Following the end of that program in 2001, the group became focused on fully reusable suborbital vehicles and pursuit of the X PRIZE CUP.
Spaceport America began initial launch operations in 2006. Spaceport America is expected to complete its $209 million construction in 2013.