地缘贸易博客This blog considers how ideas and events framed by geography and trade shape our world, while sharing observations and analysis on discovery, transport, industry and much more.






Saturday, 22 October 2011

Spaceport America Ready for Launch

A fly-over by Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo (SS2) suborbital vehicle and WhiteKnightTwo mothership marked the 17 October dedication of the hangar at Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-designed launch facility for space tourism and sub-orbital science flights.

The site has officially been providing limited commercial vertical launch services since 2006 but is now gearing up for SS2 sub-orbital flights within two years. This week's event marked the formal completion of Phase One of the two-part construction program, with Phase Two now getting under way. The latest wave of work includes completion of the main hangar and construction of a visitors experience center.
 
The facility for commercial space travel in the Rio Grande valley of New Mexico, Spaceport America, is the first of its kind in the world. Virgin Galactic has signed up to be the anchor tenant for 20 years and has dedicated hundreds of millions of US dollars to developing the technology. Here are some pictures of the dedication event:


SpaceShipTwo reflected in the east facing glass wall of the Spaceport terminal
 and terminal complex designed by Sir Norman Foster.

Two views of the Spaceport from the west, the structure blends
 ‘Dune’-like  into the desert scrub.

SpaceShipTwo between the Moon and the Spaceport.

Veteran Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin hands Sir Richard Branson a plaque with the
Spaceport’s new ceremonial address – No.1 Half Moon Street, Las Cruces.
The name commemorates links to Virgin’s offices in London’s Mayfair district.

Aerial gymnasts perform at the dedication ceremony.



Virgin Galactic President/CEO George Whitesides said powered test flights to sub-orbit are still on track for next year, with rocket motor maker Sierra Nevada gearing up for a further full-duration ground test in November. The company acknowledges progress has been slower than planned, but adds that the focus remains on safety. The Geo-Trade Blog will continue to report and update on future developments at the Spaceport.

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