Virgin Galactic's first generation of commercial space vehicles now have somewhere to land with the completion of the runway at Spaceport America in New Mexico. The 42-inch thick, almost two mile long "spaceway" was dedicated in a ceremony attended by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Buzz Aldrin, Sir Richard Branson and around 30 soon-to-be space tourists who have signed up as Virgin Galactic's first customers.
Located in the desert near Truth and Consequences, New Mexico, which is around 150 miles south of Albuquerque (and you thought getting to JFK was a hassle), Spaceport America has been providing commercial launch services since 2006 and is expected to be fully completed in 2011.
The runway is designed to "support nearly every type of aircraft in the world today" and aerospace firms such as Lockheed Martin, Moog-FTS, Armadillo Aerospace, and UP Aerospace will also use the facility.
A grand opening will take place once the massive Foster and Partners designed terminal hangar facility is completed. The terminal is built largely underground to protect it from extreme desert conditions and uses earth tubes for cooling, solar energy for power and has its own wastewater recycling plant.
Virgin's mission control center, Two WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft and five SpaceShipTwos will be housed at the site along with facilities for passengers undergoing the required three days of flight preparations before setting off on their US200K space adventure.
Via: Virgin Galactic, SpacePort America