With construction of Spaceport America largely complete and Virgin Galactic unlikely to launch commercial flights for roughly….oh, wait for it….18 months, the folks at the New Mexico Spaceport Authority have faced a bit of a challenge as of late: how to maintain public interest in and enthusiasm for a $209 million, taxpayer-funded facility that is sitting unfinished and — save for a handful of sounding rockets — unused out in the suburbs of nowhere.
The answer they came up with would be familiar to every political candidate with a floundering campaign or retail giant suddenly facing more nimble competition: a re-branding effort.
Yesterday, the authority launched a brand new website complete with a snazzy new logo and brand identity. And they did so on America’s 236th birthday.
The new identity, named “Spirit”, represents two stars coming together; the collaboration of innovative efforts to propel man’s reach into space. The Spaceport America identity is created from the colors of our nation with red symbolizing energy, strength, and power and blue symbolizing trust, loyalty and wisdom. It reflects Spaceport America’s core commitment to the spirit of exploration, the promise of human potential, and the powerful combination of vision and courage as it launches the next generation of space.
Also this week, the NMSA announced it has obtained a temporary Certificate of Occupancy from the New Mexico Regulations and Licensing Department for the Spaceport Operations Center (SOC), a dome-shaped building adjacent to the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space that will support operations. The design of the interior SOC fit-out is underway and final build out construction is expected to begin by the end of 2012. When complete, the SOC will house NMSA staff and their primary contractors that will handle facilities operations, security, fire and EMT service.
“Our new identity emphasizes our dedication to the highest level of service to both our launch customers and the hundreds of thousands of expected annual visitors from around the globe,” said Anderson. “We look forward to soon adding access to the newly finished SOC facility to our guided ‘Preview Tour’ this summer.” Anderson continued, “Once Phase Two construction is completed in 2013, we will have created a whole new kind of visitor experience, and the new Spaceport America brand identity and website are key steps along the path of offering the world an invitation to space.”
Preview Tour days, times and reservation information can be found by going to: www.ftstours.com.
The new website and re-branding is actually pretty good and, truth be told, long overdue. The old website was pretty awful. So, excellent job on all that. As for the timing, well….ummmm….
You might that that announcing such news on the Fourth of July — a day on which the entire nation is too busy eating hot dogs, drinking beer and watching fireworks to pay attention to virtually anything else — was the result of some sort of colossal misunderstanding of basic public relations strategy. Well, think again. It was actually intentional.
“Spaceport America is helping a new American Revolution take place in the commercial space industry, and what better time to showcase our new brand than the Fourth of July,” said Christine Anderson, Executive Director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA).
Good grief. You’re actually comparing what the Founders did with launching millionauts on suborbital joy rides? Seriously?
I’m a bit of a Revolutionary War buff. Some of my earliest memories involve field trips to Independence Hall in Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell and visits to Washington Crossing State Park. My home county is where George Washington crossed the Delaware, the crucial Battles of Princeton and Trenton were fought and win, and three signers of the Declaration lived and are buried.
So, I take July Fourth a bit seriously, probably a bit more than most. And I could go on and on with the many, many ways I believe this is an inappropriate comparison. But, I will spare you that and try to put this as succinctly as possible:
If Virgin Galactic somehow fails and Spaceport America ends up being a gigantic white elephant getting sandblasted to hell out in the middle of the desert, the British Army is not going to hunt down those responsible and hang them all from gallows. That’s the fate that Washington and the Signers likely faced if the American Revolution had failed.
The worst-case scenario in this eventuality is those involved will face embarrassing political investigations, endless depositions, and the loss of their jobs. All three are survivable with neck intact, albeit perhaps not with reputations and bank accounts intact.
In conclusion, excellent job on the reboot. The patriotic flag waving…not so much.