|This article is outdated. (November 2012)|
|Spaceport America terminal hangar facility as of October 2010|
|IATA: none – ICAO: none – FAA LID: 90NM|
|Airport type||Private Commercial Spaceport|
|Owner/Operator||New Mexico Spaceport Authority|
|Location||Sierra County, New Mexico|
|Hub for||Virgin Galactic,
|Elevation AMSL||4,595 ft / 1,401 m|
Spaceport America (formerly the Southwest Regional Spaceport) is a spaceport located in the Jornada del Muerto desert basin in New Mexico, United States just west of the White Sands Missile Range. It lies 89 miles (143 km) north of El Paso, 45 miles (72 km) north of Las Cruces, 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Truth or Consequences. Spaceport America was officially declared open on October 18, 2011.
|This section may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. The specific problem is: WP:PROSELINE. (November 2012)|
The spaceport's initial concept was proposed by Stanford University engineering lecturer and tech startup advisor Dr. Burton Lee in 1990. He wrote the initial business and strategic plans, secured US$1.4 million in seed funding via congressional earmarks with the help of Senator Pete Domenici, and worked with the New Mexico State University Physical Science Laboratory (PSL) to develop local support for the spaceport concept.
In 1992, the Southwest Space Task Force was formed to advance the New Mexico space industry's commercial infrastructure and activity. After several years of study, they focused on a 27-square-mile (70 km2) plot of state-owned land, 45 miles (72 km) north of Las Cruces, as a location for the spaceport.
In 2003, the task force petitioned new Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Rick Homans who then picked up the torch. Homans presented the idea to state Governor Richardson and negotiated with the X Prize Foundation to locate the X Prize Cup in New Mexico. Following an announcement by Governor Richardson and Sir Richard Branson's that the new Virgin Galactic would make New Mexico its world headquarters, the state legislature enacted laws providing for the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport in 2006. The spaceport was branded Spaceport America.
Construction of the first temporary launch facility at the spaceport site began on 4 April 2006. Early operations of the spaceport utilized this temporary infrastructure, some of it borrowed from neighboring White Sands Missile Range.
In early 2007, red tape was still in the process of being cleared and the spaceport itself was still little more than "a 100-foot (30 m) by 25-foot (7.6 m) concrete slab." That slab would eventually be part of the launch facility for the spaceport's first tenant UP Aerospace. On April 3, voters in neighboring Doña Ana County approved a spaceport tax, that would go into effect upon final approval from the Spaceport America host county Sierra County.
The first images of the then planned spaceport's Hangar Terminal Facility (HTF) were released in early September 2007.
In April 2008, the voters in Sierra County approved the plan, releasing over US$40 million in funding for the spaceport. Voters in the third county of Otero, however, rejected the spaceport tax during November general elections. In spite of this, Spaceport America had what it needed to move forward and great headway towards its completion began.
In December 2008, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority received its launch license for vertical and horizontal launch in from the Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation. Shortly thereafter, Virgin Galactic signed a 20-year (240-month) lease as the anchor tenant, agreeing to pay US$1 million per year for the first five years in addition to payments on a tiered scale based on the number of launches the company makes.
In December, Gerald Martin Construction Management, from Albuquerque, was chosen to oversee construction. As of April 2009[update], the first of 13 bid packages for the spaceport was expected to be publicly released later that month and all 13 bid packages were scheduled to be released by June 2009. "The goal is to have [construction] completed in 17 months, by December 2010."
By February 2010, the in mid-construction budgetary estimate for completion was $198 million.
By October 2010, with the runway complete and the terminal building under active construction, the budgetary estimate for completion increased to $212 million. Approximately two-thirds of that were provided by the state of New Mexico and the remainder from "construction bonds backed by a tax approved by voters in Doña Ana and Sierra counties."
Increased private funding 
With the beginning of the administration of New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez in 2011, the state government took a new approach to increase private investment to complete the spaceport project. In order to oversee the new effort, Governor Martinez appointed an entirely new board of directors for the Spaceport Authority and removed Executive Director Rick Homans.
The western zone of the Facility (25,597 sq ft.) houses support and administrative facilities for Virgin Galactic and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. The central zone contains the double-height hangar (47,000 sq ft.) to store White Knight Two and SpaceShipTwo crafts. The eastern zone (29,419 sq ft.) encompasses the principal operational training area, departure lounge, spacesuit dressing rooms, and celebration areas.
The onsite restaurant and mission control room have a direct east views across the apron, runway and landscape beyond.
The spaceport was built with environmental sustainability in mind. Designed to meet the requirements for LEED Gold Certification, it incorporates "Earth Tubes" to cool the building, solar thermal panels, underfloor radiant cooling and heating, and natural ventilation.
A visitor center is planned in downtown Truth Or Consequences (the closest town) to provide shuttle bus services to the Spaceport.
UP Aerospace 
From the early stages, the spaceport has been host to several vertical launches by UP Aerospace. As the first tenant, it had access to multiple functional vertical takeoff facilities of the then incomplete spaceport.
Virgin Galactic 
As Spaceport America's anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic is to be given primary access to the 10,000-foot-long (3,000 m) runway, from which it will operate 21⁄2 hour commercial suborbital trips. As of February 2011[update], Virgin Galactic has accepted over 400 reservations and collected $50 million in deposits. The company currently expects its "pioneer spaceflight" will launch from Spaceport America in 2013.
Virgin Galactic's suborbital ship, SpaceShipTwo (SS2), is carried by its mother-craft White Knight Two (WK2) to an altitude of 50,000 feet (15,000 m) before being released on a suborbital trajectory under its own rocket power. Space Ship Two's launches will apex 70 miles (110 km) from the Earth's surface at more than 2,000 mph (3,200 km/h). Customers will take part in 3 days pre-flight preparation, bonding, and training onsite at the spaceport.
X Prize Foundation 
In May 2013, SpaceX announced that they had signed a three-year lease for land and facilities at Spaceport America in order to support high-altitude, high-velocity flight testing of the Grasshopper v1.1 reusable launch vehicle (RLV), the second-generation of the SpaceX experimental vertical takeoff, vertical landing suborbital technology-demonstrator. SpaceX is using Grasshopper as one-element of a multi-element program to develop reusable boosters and second stages. Prior to May, SpaceX had indicated that they would do these tests at US Government's adjacent White Sands Missile Range facility.
See also 
- "Branson Dedicates Space Terminal". Wallstreet Journal. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
- David, Leonard (2007-09-04). "Spaceport America: First Looks at a New Space Terminal". space.com. Retrieved 2008-02-10. More than one of
- "Work starts on New Mexico spaceport". BBC. 20 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-30.
- Ohtake, Miyoko (August 25, 2007). "Virgin Galactic Preps for Liftoff at World's First Commercial Spaceport". Wired Magazine (15:10). Retrieved 2009-01-24.
- "History of Spaceport America". New Mexico State University. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
- Hill, Karl (2006). "Destination: Space-Not even the sky's the limit for new aerospace industry". New Mexico State University. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
- "Spaceport America: History". New Mexico Spaceport Authority. 2007. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
- Haussamen, Heath (2006-04-04). "Temporary spaceport being built; 1st launch likely 'before September'". Las Cruces Sun-News. p. 1A.
- Holston, Mike (2007-04-28). "Spaceport America interview" (wma video). UP Aerospace. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
- Caldwell, Alicia (2007-04-28). "Ashes of Star Trek's Scotty Fly to Space". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-07-24.
- Alba, Diana M. (2007-12-12). "New tax still up in the air". Las Cruces Sun-News. ISSN 1081-2172. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
- "First images of Spaceport America revealed". Flight Global. 2007-04-09. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
- Kaufman, Marc (2008-05-10). "New Mexico Moves Ahead on Spaceport: 2010 Opening Appears to Be Within Reach, Even With Remaining Hurdles". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-07-24. More than one of
- Medina, Jose L. (2008-11-06). "Spaceport to move forward despite Otero vote". Las Cruces Sun-News. ISSN 1081-2172. Retrieved 2008-11-13.
- Spaceport America, New Mexico Spaceport Authority (December 2008). "Spaceport Progress 2008 / 2009". Retrieved 2010-05-27.
- "Spaceport America Construction Status". May 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-27.
- "Spaceport receives launch license". Las Cruces Sun-News. 2008-12-16. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- "FAA Issues Launch Site Operator License for Spaceport America" (Press release). New Mexico Spaceport Authority. 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2008-12-16.
- "America Spaceport Grows Desert". Fox News. 2010-01-28. Retrieved 2010-05-30.
- Alba, Diana M. (2009-01-01). "Virgin Galactic signs Spaceport America lease". Las Cruces Sun-News. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
- "Governor Bill Richardson Announces Spaceport America and Virgin Galactic Sign Historic Lease Agreement" (Press release). New Mexico Spaceport Authority. 2008-12-31. Retrieved 2009-01-01.
- Meeks, Ashley (2008-12-19). "Company chosen to build spaceport". Las Cruces Sun-News. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- "Construction Management Firm Named for Spaceport America" (Press release). New Mexico Spaceport Authority. 2008-12-18. Retrieved 2008-12-19.
- Ramirez, Steve (2009-04-10). "Spaceport America offers job opportunities". Las Cruces Sun-News. Retrieved 2009-04-21.
- "Tours of spaceport site in December". Las Cruces Sun-News. 2009-10-22. Retrieved 2009-10-22.[dead link]
- "Spaceport America Hardhat Tours Announced at ISPCS" (PDF) (Press release). Spaceport America. October 21, 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
- Barry, Dan (February 21, 2010). "A New Exit to Space Readies for Business". New York Times. Retrieved February 22, 2010.
- "Virgin spaceship to pass new milestone". AFP via Yahoo News. 2010-10-22. Retrieved 2010-10-22.
- Roberts, Chris (2010-10-23). "New era draws closer: Spaceport dedicates runway on New Mexico ranch". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2011-01-16. "two-thirds of the $212 million required to build the spaceport came from the state of New Mexico... The rest came from construction bonds backed by a tax approved by voters in Doña Ana and Sierra counties."
- Polland, Jennifer (2012-08-30). "See Where The World's First Commercial Space Flights Will Take Off From". Business Insider. Retrieved 2012-09-02.
- "Martinez pushes private funds for spaceport". Cibola Beacon. 2011-02-14. Retrieved 2011-02-16. "Martinez said ... "New Mexico's taxpayers have made a significant investment in the Spaceport project. It's time to see the project through to completion by bringing in private funding.""
- "Letter of Resignation". ispcs.com. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
- Korte, Tim (2009-06-19). "Ceremony marks New Mexico spaceport launch". Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
- VSS Enterprise Completes First Manned Glide Flight, Virgin Galactic, 2010-10-10, accessed 2010-12-30.
- "Spaceport America - White Sands New Mexico". Retrieved 2010-05-30.
- Alba Soular, Diana (2012-01-16). "Virgin Galactic's Butler builds NM operation". Las Cruces Sun-News. Retrieved 2012-01-14. ""In [the Las Cruces] office, we're likely to have about 20 people. And at the spaceport - it's hard to be precise at this point - but in the region of 150 direct jobs. Of course, the contractors we'll take on is a much bigger number.""
- "Private Spaceflight: Shifting into Fast Forward". space.com. Retrieved 2008-02-10.
- Lindsey, Clark (2013-05-07). "SpaceX to test Grasshopper reusable booster at Spaceport America in NM". NewSpace Watch. Retrieved 2013-05-07.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Spaceport America|
- Official website
- Ongoing photo log of Spaceport construction
- Aerial view of Spaceport America
- Info @ Encyclopedia Astronautica
- Spaceport news archive from Las Cruces Sun-News
- "Eat My Contrails, Branson!" from SEED magazine