Magazine article PM Network

Vacationing on the Moon

Magazine article PM Network

Vacationing on the Moon

Article excerpt

It could end up to be one giant leap for the space tourism business. Work is under way to create the $225 million Spaceport America on a 16,600-acre (6,718-hectare) stretch of ranchland near Upham, New Mexico, USA. There, regular citizens can orbit the earth over cocktails for a mere $200,000.

At the moment, Spaceport America is little more than a concrete slab. But with strong backing from the state's governor, that may soon change.

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) says construction of Spaceport America is scheduled to begin this year, immediately after it receives a site operator's license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Completion is expected in late 2009 or early 2010.

Last September, design renderings for the venue were finally unveiled.

The 100,000-square-foot (9,290-square-meter) hangar and terminal facility is the joint-effort of a U.S.-British team consisting of URS Corp. and Foster + Partners. They created a low-lying design that uses natural earth as a berm and relies on passive energy for heating and cooling, with photovoltaic panels for electricity and water recycling. A rolling concrete shell acts as a roof with massive windows that open to a stunning view of the runway and spacecraft.

The $31 million terminal and hangar facility will house preand post-flight training facilities and lounges for Virgin Galactic, the self-proclaimed first commercial space tourism business run by British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson. From there, the company will operate a fleet of two transport planes and five spaceships that carry passengers to their 2. …

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