Jan 13 2013
What a great way to start the New Year with a peek at the future in space at Spaceport America just north of Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA.
The Spaceport bills itself as: The world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport, designed to enable affordable, efficient and effective space access and unlock the potential of space for everyone.
(All images by Bruce Cordell on 1/6/2013.)
The word is that the first group — including Branson himself — of the several hundred aspiring future private astronauts who’ve booked their reservation with Virgin Galactic will be launched into suborbital space by the end of 2013.
Spaceport America provides some of the most spectacular evidence that we are indeed just around the corner from the next transformational, 1960s-style Maslow Window, expected by mid-decade.
This view to the east from the security station shows the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building — a 120,000 sq ft combined hangar and terminal — with the San Andres Mountains in the distance. White Sands National Monument and the Space History Museum in Alamogordo are to the southeast over this range.
This close-up of the Gateway building’s east side reveals the third-floor balcony where passengers and guests will gather to contemplate how life-altering it is to become a private astronaut and venture 100 km above the Earth!
At the end of our Spaceport America tour in front of the Gateway, we experienced a “reflective” moment ourselves (look closely below) …
… and realized that Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America have the potential to not only trigger a quantum leap in commercial spaceflight all over the world, but to transform the state of New Mexico into a new, global center for space-related informal education and tourism.
With New Mexico’s impressive space-related assets and history (e.g., Alamogordo Space Museum, White Sands, Holloman AFB, NASA and NMSU facilities, VLA), expected hordes of tourists drawn to the Spaceport for a glimpse of the future, and world-class investors taking notice (e.g., Ted Turner’s major ranch nearby) — isn’t it possible we could see the birth of a new Disney-style space-related theme park in southern New Mexico to complement the anticipated success of Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America, and to celebrate our expansion into the new international Space Age?
Time will tell.