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Thread: Virgin Galactic SPACEPORT in New Mexico

  1. #1
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
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    Default Virgin Galactic SPACEPORT in New Mexico

    This could be a great opportunity for some fantastic architecture.

    Calling Zaha ...

    Virgin Spaceport to Be Built in N.M.

    AP Business Writer
    Dec 13, 2005

    LONDON - Virgin Galactic, the British company created by entrepreneur Richard Branson to send tourists into space, and New Mexico announced an agreement Tuesday for the state to build a $225 million spaceport. Virgin Galactic also revealed that up to 38,000 people from 126 countries have paid a deposit for a seat on one of its manned commercial flights, including a core group of 100 "founders" who have paid the initial $200,000 cost of a flight upfront. Virgin Galactic is planning to begin flights in late 2008 or early 2009.

    New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Rick Homans said construction of the spaceport, to be built largely underground in the south of the state near the White Sands Missile Range, could begin in early 2007, depending on approval from environmental and aviation authorities.

    Virgin will have a 20-year lease on the facility, with annual payments of $1 million for the first five years and rising to cover the cost of the project by the end of the lease.

    "Experts predict that thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars of private investment will be created in the next 20 years as the private sector develops new commercial markets in the space industry in New Mexico," Homans said in London. "Virgin is the beginning and many other space companies will follow."

    Virgin Galactic said it had chosen New Mexico as the site for its headquarters because of its steady climate, free airspace, low population density and high altitude. All those factors can significantly reduce the cost of the space flight program.

    The spaceport, to be located some 25 miles south of the town of Truth or Consequences, will be constructed 90 percent underground, with just the runway and supporting structures above ground.

    Stephen Attenborough, the Virgin Galactic executive in charge of marketing the space flights, said the 100 founder members were committed to "stepping up to the plate" and boarding a flight early in the operations.

    "Many of the others will need to wait until the price comes down and will want to wait for proven reliability and safety," he said.

    Trevor Beattie, a London-based advertising director who paid for his ticket within days of Branson's announcement of the company's launch, said he was not concerned about safety.

    "My only concern is that the longer they leave the launch, the more likely we all are to be hit by a bus," said Beattie, who has dreamed of going to space since watching the 1969 moonwalk.

    Branson formed Virgin Galactic after watching SpaceShipOne, a craft designed by Burt Rutan and funded by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, become the first privately manned rocket to reach space last year.

    SpaceShipOne went on to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize with two suborbital flights in five days from Mojave, Calif.

    Virgin Galactic has a deal with Rutan to build five spacecraft, licensing technology from Allen's company, Mojave Aerospace Ventures.

    Virgin Galactic plans to operate its initial flights from the Mojave base ahead of the projected opening of the New Mexico spaceport in late 2009 or early 2010.

    Virgin Galactic also unveiled its logo _ the pupil of an eye incorporating an eclipse. Branson's iris will be used for the final design.

    Branson is due to join New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson in the United States on Wednesday to unveil the spaceport plans.

    Copyright 2005 The Associated Press

  2. #2
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
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    Virgin Galactic and New Mexico Announce Spaceport Agreement

    At press conferences in London and New Mexico, officials from Virgin Galactic and from the State of New Mexico announced that they had reached an historic agreement which will see the building of a $200m spaceport in the southern part of the state on a 27 square mile area of state land.

    Virgin Galactic has agreed to locate its world's headquarters and Mission Control in New Mexico and strongly believes that the new spaceport will offer fledgling astronauts an experience that will be truly out of this world.

    "When Burt Rutan and SpaceShipOne won the X PRIZE in October 2004, we knew the new space industry had arrived," said Secretary Rick Homans. "And when Sir Richard Branson announced that Virgin would use that same technology to fly paying passengers into space, we realized that our most important job was to convince Virgin Galactic to come to New Mexico and launch the personal spaceflight industry. This announcement is a convergence of dreams and we are proud that Virgin will be New Mexico's anchor tenant at the world's most exciting space tourism location. "

    "New Mexico has worked hard to bring us to their exciting new spaceport facility," stated Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic. "The State has several factors that make it an ideal operations base: climate, free airspace, low population density, high altitude, and stunning scenery. Our team was highly impressed by the professionalism and the competitive pitch the state and its advisors developed. We look forward to working together to make the "Final Frontier" a reality for tens of thousands of pioneering space tourists. Our activities will prove the commercial viability and excellent safety technology behind private personal spaceflight and give birth to a new industry in New Mexico."

    A new vision, a new identity

    Design guru, Philippe Starck has inspired an exciting new identity for Virgin Galactic to reflect the vision of the project. Using the amazing and beautiful image of an iris, he allows people to reflect on the basic human instinct to push boundaries and explore.

    Philippe Starck explains: "The curiosity and adventure of the human spirit exists in the vision of a human eye, from today, through millions of years of evolution, right back to the beginning of mankind. The nebulous iris represents the infinite possibilities of this endeavour and signifies our opportunity to look back at earth from space with our own eyes for the first time. The eye's pupil incorporates an eclipse, the dawning of something new, something unique but accessible. Something far, but near."

    The new visual was identity was created by Philippe Starck in conjunction with leading design agency GBH Design Ltd.

    Mark Bonner, Creative Director at GBH Design Ltd, added: "It is an honor and a privilege to work within one of the most exciting ventures in the world today. Our aim is not just to create something that represents the opportunity for an ordinary person to travel into space and to look back at the planet where we all live, but also to represent the incredible spirit of human endeavor that continues to push us all forward".

    Richard Branson and the Virgin Galactic team feel that the new logo looks towards the future of space travel rather than using imagery more in the style with a wonderful but bygone age.

    Sir Richard Branson said: "Philippe has come up with the most fantastic logo, which encapsulates our vision of the future. When I look at the logo I am reminded of childlike awe. I believe it represents all those who will watch and be a part of the growth of this amazing new commercial aviation sector.

    Whether they be six or sixty, all will see and believe that a new chapter in the story of space flight has begun."

  3. #3


    Well, this is cool.

    Virgin Galactic space-tourism venture's plane passes key test

    A file photo shows the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft and SpaceShipTwo rocket plane at Mojave Air and Space Port. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times / September 19, 2011)

    By W.J. Hennigan and Adolfo Flores

    April 29, 2013, 10:01 a.m.

    British billionaire Richard Branson’s commercial space venture Virgin Galactic got one step closer to carrying tourists into space when a test pilot cracked the sound barrier over the Mojave desert.

    For the first time, the company's SpaceShipTwo, engaged its rocket motor and sped to Mach 1.2 and reached 56,000 feet in altitude.

    The flight is the latest -- and largest -- milestone in Virgin Galactic's testing of technology it hopes to use to carry scores of paying customers into space multiple times a day.

    “The first powered flight of Virgin Spaceship Enterprise was without any doubt our single most important flight test to date,” said Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, in a statement. “ Today’s supersonic success opens the way for a rapid expansion of the spaceship’s powered flight envelope, with a very realistic goal of full space flight by the year’s end."

    The test flight took place shortly after sunrise Monday beginning on the desert runway at Mojave Air and Space Port, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. During the test, SpaceShipTwo was taken to about 46,000 feet by a carrier aircraft and dropped like a bomb.

    After a short free fall, test pilots Mark Stucky and Mike Alsbury engaged the hybrid rocket motor, powered by nitrous oxide and a rubber compound, for 16 seconds, at which point SpaceShipTwo reached Mach 1.2 speeds.

    The idea of Virgin Galactic routinely taking passengers to space this way was developed by retired maverick aerospace engineer Burt Rutan and his Mojave company, Scaled Composites.

    Until now, astronauts have reached space packed tight in a capsule or shuttle attached to a high-powered rocket.

    Instead, Virgin Galactic will use a WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft that will fly with the reusable SpaceShipTwo rocket plane under its wing to 50,000 feet, where the spaceship will separate and blast off.

    When the rocket motor engages, it will power the spaceship to nearly 2,500 mph and take the pilot -– and up to six passengers -- to the edge of space, or more than 60 miles above the Earth's surface.

    Once they reach that suborbital altitude, passengers will experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the Earth. Then they will reenter the atmosphere and glide back to the runway. The price for the experience: $200,000.

    Virgin Galactic, founded by Branson, hopes to make its first passenger flight sometime next year from Spaceport America in New Mexico, where the company plans to conduct routine operations. The company said it has taken about 530 reservations for the ride.

    The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, which resembles a flying catamaran because it has two fuselages, and SpaceShipTwo are still in the midst of a test-flight program that will continue in Mojave until Virgin Galactic believes it can begin commercial operations.

    Virgin Galactic's commercial space launch system is based on Rutan's SpaceShipOne, the world's first private manned spaceship, which successfully flew a test pilot to space and back three times during 2004 to win a $10 million X-Prize purse.

    The prizewinning spacecraft caught the eye of Branson, who wanted to work with Rutan on a much bigger rocket ship that could send not only a pilot into space but also fare-paying passengers.

    The enterprise was shrouded in secrecy for years. Then in 2007, during a test of the spaceship's propulsion system, an explosion killed three workers and injured three others. The blast exposed the secret project and reminded the public of the risks of rocketry.

    The project endured and Branson has since built a 68,000-square-foot facility at the space port for a joint venture, called Spaceship Co., to mass-produce its rocket ship and carrier aircraft. It was one of the first aircraft assembly plants to be built in the region in decades.


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