Oct 27 2008
Southern New Mexico has to be in the running for the global title of Most Ebullience per Capita, even rivaling Panama. Spaceport America (near Las Cruces) — the world’s first commercial spaceport and host last week of a major conference on commercial spaceflight — is taking off!
Executive Director Steve Landeene says, “We’re in the very early stage of creating a new kind of air transport system. Space tourism is the first phase, along with the commercial launching of satellites and spacecraft that can carry cargo and even astronauts to the international space station and maybe later the moon,” (Washington Post, 5/10/08)
Wow — A vision for launching astronauts to ISS, and maybe later the Moon!! Not bad for a site initially eyed by Stanford University and NASA in the early 1990s as a passive, reusable space capsule landing site, and more recently, that survived the exciting prospects of single stage-to-orbit operations at the “Southwest Regional Spaceport” only to see it fade away in 2001 with the cancellation of VentureStar.
Of course it helps to have Richard Branson agree to make New Mexico the world headquarters of Virgin Galactic as well as the primary tenant of Spaceport America, explained Landeene at San Diego’s AIAA Space 08 Conference in September. And other campanies such as UP Aerospace and Lockheed Martin also plan future launches from the $ 225 million Spaceport.
The type of early ebullience characteristic of the runup to the next Maslow Window is exemplified by serious futuristic talk about “point-to-point” intercontinental transport; where rocket-powered vehicles move cargo or passengers between spaceports much faster than is possible now. In a recent interview in Space News (10/20/08) Landeene confirms that, “Even just a few months ago people were trying to keep this idea low profile…But I do believe we’re going to see that kind of transportation…I don’t hear any naysayers.”
Spaceport America’s recent success includes passage of a sales tax in support of the Spaceport in 2 nearby counties. A third county will vote in November and then a Spaceport Tax District must be formed to administer the revenue by the end of 2008. Assuming their pending Environmental Impact Statement is approved and the FAA grants a Spaceport Operators License, they’ll become the first commercial portal to the cosmos in late 2010!