A new space era is dawning in the middle of the New Mexico (USA) desert, with the construction of the first private space port. And the Spaceport America could be just the first in a series of other similar infra-structures, should the investment in the space industry prove to be right. Behind this initiative is Virgin Galactic, belonging to multimillionaire Richard Branson, who invested 300 million dollars in the project.
The contest for the Spaceport America building was won by renowned British firm Foster+partners, which has been distinguished for the creation of bold and cutting-edge projects, especially airports. The entire set is over 10 000m^2 and incorporates green technology, from solar panels to cooling systems through tubes buried in the ground, which makes them self-sufficient and a new paradigm where sustainable architecture is concerned.
Furthermore, the new spaceport presents the necessary conditions to become a new icon in image and environmental integration. According to its authors, its dynamic shape tries to capture the "drama and mystery" of space traveling, evoking retro-futuristic images of the first steps in space conquest. But this time it isn't just science-fiction: the Spaceport America should start activities next year (2011).
The Virgin Galactic's involvement in this project didn't happen at random. The company already has the spaceships that will be put to work there, namely the spaceship White Knight Two, and the recently introduced Space Ship Two, able to carry 6 passengers and travel at over 100 km of altitude. If you happen to have 200 000 dollars to pay for a trip that includes three training days at the Spaceport America, a few minutes under zero gravity, bar service and a descent with 6 G forces, then you should promptly make a reservation, because there are plenty of candidates. And if you think it's expensive, I will have you know that transatlantic air trips - one way only - cost a little less than that, at the time they were introduced.
More information at Spaceport America's website.