Thursday, 24 May 2012

SpacePorts America

Spaceport America (formerly named Southwest Regional Spaceport) is a commercial spaceport currently being developed on a 27 square-mile tract of state-owned desert near Upham, New Mexico. The spaceport is about 45 miles north of Las Cruces, and 30 miles east of Truth or Consequences. It lies near the perimeter of the White Sands Missile Range. Currently, there is only a 100 by 25 foot concrete launching pad.
Spaceport America was founded in 1990 by Dr. Burton Lee and Bernie McCune. Lee proposed the original spaceport concept, authored the initial business and strategic plans, and secured seed funding for $1.4 million through a congressional earmark with the assistance of Sen. Pete Domenici. In 1992, Dr. Ave Tombes created the Southwest Regional Spaceport Taskforce in response to Lee's success in obtaining congressional support for the initiative. Other individuals who have played a key role in the development of the spaceport include Lonnie Sumpter (Executive Director, New Mexico Spaceport Authority), Dr. Bill Gutman (NMSU/PSL), Hanson Scott, Lou Gomez, Len Sugerman and Margaret Gallaher Lee.
Spaceport America will be the first built-from-scratch commercial spaceport in the United States of America. The $225 million venture was announced in December 2005 in Santa Fe. Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic plans to launch its first flight from the spaceport in 2009. Once completed, Spaceport America is expected to be the venue for the annual X Prize Cup suborbital spaceflight competitions.

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