Virgin Galactic Opens the Doors to the ‘Gateway to Space’

Interior of the Gateway to Space in New Mexico. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

LAS CRUCES, NM, August 15, 2019 (Virgin Galactic PR) — Virgin Galactic today revealed the first look at the interior fit-out of its Gateway to Space building at Spaceport America in New Mexico. The work completed showcased two floors of the building primarily focused on spaceflight operations, which also incorporates communal spaces designed for use in the future by Virgin Galactic customers, along with their friends and families. Completion of this interior work means the spaceport facility is now operationally functional and able to support Virgin Galactic’s flight requirements. 


WhiteKnightTwo Departs Mojave for New Mexico

A Virgin Galactic spokeswoman tells me that SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity remains in Mojave as its passenger cabin is fitted out for commercial flights.

The spacecraft is set to join WhiteKnightTwo VMS Eve at Spaceport America in New Mexico later this year to complete a series of flights that began in Mojave. Commercial suborbital flights are set to begin from there in 2020.

The company is planning an event on Thursday, Aug. 15, in which they will unveil the inside of the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space in New Mexico.

Cornwall Expects Big — Maybe Too Big — Things From Newquay Spaceport

There’s some news from Cornwall on the spaceport front:

Cornwall Council has admitted that it is ‘anticipating a positive announcement’ on the bid to have the UK’s first spaceport in Newquay bringing thousands of new jobs and an £1bn a year into the local economy.

Newquay is among eight UK sites vying to become the first spaceport in Europe as the Government aims to meet the growing interest in space tourism.

The Government is expected to announce the location of the spaceport at the Farnborough Air Show which starts on July 16.

If successful, horizontal rocket launches could take place from Newquay , which has one of the longest runways in the country, to see small size satellites put into orbit. The space sector could be worth more than £1 billion by 2030, which is more than 10 per cent of the current economy.

Editor’s Note:  It looks like somebody’s got spaceport fever. Also known as Richardson Syndrome, it is a very serious condition that leads people to do and say all sorts of crazy (and often expensive) things. The only cure for that is reviewing the history of commercial spaceports. Preferable with a couple of pints on hand, which you’ll need once you realize what you’ve gotten yourself into.

I’ve lived for six years near Mojave spaceport, which hasn’t seen a spaceflight in almost 14 years.  Small rocket launches aside, Spaceport America has stayed largely idle since they dedicated the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space way back in 2011. (You don’t need to spend $225 million to launch sounding rockets.) Midland’s spaceport dreams expired when XCOR and Orbital outfitters did. Burns Flat in Oklahoma never saw a launch. Florida’s Cecil Airport is still waiting for its first spaceflight.

Maybe things will be different in Cornwall. Maybe they’ll catch a wave. Maybe the timing is finally right. I don’t know. You never say never in this business.

It’s great that they’re willing to pursue this, but they need to manage expectations. And not go giving things away on sketchy promises. One thing that helps is Newquay won’t be dependent on its space business. It’s not like they’re building a spaceport in suburban nowhere and waiting on something that is always 12 to 18 months away.

Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space Wins Architecture Award

SANTE FE, N.M. (Thornburg Foundation PR) — The Thornburg Foundation is pleased to announce that the recently completed Virgin Galactic Terminal Hanger at Spaceport America will receive the 2014 Jeff Harnar Award for Contemporary Architecture in New Mexico. Sited in the remote landscape region approximately twenty-five miles southeast of Truth or Consequences, the project was selected from submissions of completed projects located throughout the state.


NMSA Issues General Services, Spaceport Operations Center RFPs

The Terminal Hangar Facility at Spaceport America will house Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo. It is also where future tourist astronauts will train for their journey to suborbital space. The beginning of the journey began at Mojave Air & Space Port. (Credit: David Wilson, Spaceport America)

LAS CRUCES, NM (NMSA PR) — The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) has issued new Requests For Proposals (RFPs) for the General Services and Spaceport Operations Center Fit-Out Design contracts at Spaceport America.

General Services RFP

The scope of work required for the General Services contract includes providing labor, supervision, management, supplies, materials, tools and equipment to perform:

  • Development of policies and procedures for all general services activities
  • Maintenance planning and scheduling
  • Building and utility maintenance and repairs
  • Interior and exterior building maintenance
  • Janitorial services
  • Fuel storage operation and maintenance
  • Motor vehicle and aircraft fueling
  • Foreign Object Debris (FOD) removal
  • Grounds-keeping and landscape maintenance
  • Sustainability management, including on-site materials logistics and waste management
  • Roads maintenance
  • Airfield, runway and taxiway/apron maintenance


NMSA Unveils Plans for Spaceport America Visitors’ Centers

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, NM (NMSA PR) – The New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) Board of Directors reviewed plans today to design, build and program the Spaceport America Visitor Experience. The plan includes two off-site Welcome Centers located in the Village of Hatch in Doña Ana County and in Truth or Consequences in Sierra County, plus an on-site Visitors Center and specially developed behind-the-scenes tours as well as the chance to visit the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space.

The Spaceport America Visitor Experience will be a professionally designed immersion into the excitement of the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport. Guests will be invited to explore the history, adventure, potential and inspiration of both the next space-age. Officials project attendance will grow to more than 200,000 visitors annually.