A Tour of Spaceport America

The mission control room at Spaceport America. (Credit: Alex Heard)
Mission Control at Spaceport America. (Credit: Alex Heard)

Alex Heard, editorial director of Outside Magazine, went on a tour of Spaceport America in New Mexico on Monday. He visited SpaceShipTwo’s Mission Control room (above), which consisted of two big computer screens, two flat-screen TVs, some IKEA-looking furniture and red curtains in Virgin Galactic’s corporate color.

Sir Richard Branson’s space tourism company is expecting to begin flights of its SpaceShipTwo vehicle from the spaceport later this year. Virgin Galactic employees are already there preparing for the start of operations.

The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building with a security fence around it. (Credit: Alex Heard)

Workers are busy outfitting the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space, which serves as a combination hangar and passenger terminal. The building has a security fence around it, and visitors were not allowed to get closer than 100 feet to the structure. So, they were unable to see what type of work is being done inside.

Spaceport America Mission Control building. (Credit: Alex Heard)
Spaceport America Mission Control and firehouse building. (Credit: Alex Heard)

The spaceport’s other main building houses Mission Control, a media center, fire trucks and New Mexico Spaceport Authority offices.

Tile roof of the Mission control and fires station building. (Credit: Alex Heard)
Tile roof of the Mission control and fires station building. (Credit: Alex Heard)

It’s a funky looking domed building with a roof that looks like it is made out of ceiling tiles.

Spaceport America fire trucks. (Credit: Alex Heard)
Spaceport America fire trucks. (Credit: Alex Heard)

This big fire truck cost New Mexican taxpayers a cool $750,000.

Spaceport America's runway. (Credit: Alex Heard)
Spaceport America’s runway. (Credit: Alex Heard)

Spaceport America has a 12,000-foot long runway, which was expanded from the original 10,000 feet to better accommodate flights of SpaceShipTwo and its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft.