Perhaps some of you have read of Virgin Galactic, the space division of Virgin Atlantic. (That’s right – space division) Virgin Galactic’s market niche is selling air travel to space! And the future is closer than most of us imagine.
Back in 2005, Virgin Galactic and the State of New Mexico solidified a deal to build a $200 million (usd) spaceport in a desert area of New Mexico (U.S.). Today, construction is well under way, and according to their Twitter feed, it’s roughly two thirds complete. (You can also visit their website, spaceportamerica.com, for the latest progress reports on the construction.)
Spaceport America is being designed by world-renowned UK architectural firm Foster + Partners, who won an international competition for the project. The company has also designed the Chek Lap Kok Airport in Hong Kong, as well as the London Stansted Airport and the Beijing International Capital Airport.
Spaceport America will also be home to 340 Virgin Galactic astronauts, and a state-of-the-art fleet of spaceships. The sleek design of Spaceport America will make a minimal impact on the environment, using local materials and sustainable practices.
I’m sure you are wondering, how much are tickets? According to their website, tickets cost $200,000, $20,000 of which must be paid at the time of booking. (out of my budget, but I can always dream, right?!) The company also makes it very clear that safety is their number one priority, and all passengers will have to pass some pre-flight medical checks, along with passenger training.
For those of you who are reading this post with a scepticism, be assured that yes, the world’s first ever spaceport is real, and it’s under construction as you read this. Spaceport America, the world’s first commercial spaceport, is expected to be fully-operational sometime in 2011.