Incredibly, the hub of future space travel will not be a restricted-access military installation. It will be open to the general public, or at least to anyone who is willing and able to pay for a spaceline ticket. The new spaceport will be constructed in the middle of the New Mexico desert. The design has been described as futuristic and looking “surprisingly like a cylon raider from Battlestar Galactica”.
The New Mexico Spaceport Authority recently unveiled the design, which will be the world's very first public launching and landing site for space vehicles. Spaceport America, which is just a few hours west of Roswell, will be the future home of Virgin Galactic and the X Prize cup. It will include a passenger terminal and a hangar large enough for several craft. Virgin Galactic, the world's first spaceline, will not be the only spaceline to use the spaceport. Just as with a regular airport, other carriers will be welcome to make use of the spaceport terminal. The project, slated for completion in 2010, is estimated to end up costing New Mexico's taxpayers an estimated $225 million. It’s a lot of money, but supporters say it’s a good investment and the money will be put towards good use.
"The spaceport design had to be a vision of the future, not the past," says Will Whitehorn, Virgin Galactic's president. "It's not a railroad station we're building out there."
Virgin Galactic says their goal is to use their innovative spaceships to “allow affordable sub-orbital space tourism for the first time in the history of the universe.” At $200,000 a ticket, it is still far from affordable for your average Earthling, but it does open up the market considerably. Virgin Galactic is confident that there are enough people willing and able to make the trip to make space tourism a profitable industry. Proponents of space exploration hope that these kinds of ventures will spur new innovations and discoveries that will help make humankind truly a spacefaring species.
Posted by Rebecca Sato
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