4/20/2013

April 20, 2013 – Spaceport America

When you look at a map of New Mexico, there is a little spot west of White Sands Missile Range with the title “Spaceport America”.  Andy and I are fascinated by anything space and when I knew we would be close, I checked on tours for this facility.  We found Follow the Sun Tours which is the only tour operator allowed on the facility – their tour is called “Preview Tour”  And TODAY was our tour.

So what is it?  Spaceport America is like a new mall being built.  The State of New Mexico owns it.  When a new mall starts, there are contracts with various vendors (Sears, Target, etc.).  The same goes for Spaceport America.  One of the first tenants will be Virgin Galactic’s Gateway to Space, the world’s first commercial passenger spaceline company.

More info:

http://spaceportamerica.com/

http://www.virgingalactic.com/

There are over 500 people who have signed up for a 2.5 hour flight to sub orbital space.  The cost is a cool $200,000.00.  If we ever win the lottery, our names will be on that list.

So here are the photos (I can’t tell you how excited I was to see all of this – :-))):

From a distance, Spaceport Administrative Building on the left, Virgin Galactic’s Gateway to Space on the right:

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We went thru the gate after showing our photo ID’s and getting passes and then drove to the Gateway to Space Building.  The darker brown areas you see in the front is actually dirt surrounded by concrete walls.  In the dirt is 2000’ of concrete tubing for ventilation. – WOW!  The building is 60’ high and 300’ in width.

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We drove to the gate to get closer.  The center area is where everyone will enter.  Hopefully there will be a visitor center – :-)).

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Looks alien:

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We headed to the Admin building:

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Then stopped, got out, and went in (inside I am saying – YAHOO!!): 

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The control room windows:

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Tile on the roof:

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Except for security, most of the rooms are empty, awaiting vendors.

The control room – check out the view:

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The Emergency Area – this was our tour guide, Richard:

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You know those blow up type rooms that are like balloons?  Well, that is what they did for this building.  First the air filled balloon, then plastered, then insulated, and a roof of tiles put on.  All the openings were then cut out – how cool is that!”

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From there we went to the runway.  Now I thought we would just look it over from the gate.  But security let us in and we went ON the runway…  Can you hear me saying YAHOO??  And THEN, we get out of the van – OH MY!!  When Spaceport is operational, we won’t be able to do this – :-)):

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We headed down the runway (here is Gateway to Space and the Spaceport Admin. Building):

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And lo and behold we turn into the Gateway to Space building and drive closer – OMG!!:

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Richard stops the van and WE GET OUT!!!   I couldn’t believe it.  AWESOME!:

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You can see our reflection above.  That is our van and there were 7 total, including the tour guide. 

Each of these windows are 18’ tall.  There are three floors in the building and from this vantage point you can see thru the glass.  The big square in the center will also be a control room.

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Now notice the reflection – it is almost like a mosaic of the surrounding mountains:

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What a view!:

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Between the front and the back of the building is the hanger.  These doors open to 175’ and slide open like a closet door:

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What an AMAZING place.  We would love to come back when it is operational and would love to see some of the launches – :-)))

We are so glad we did this and would really recommend the tour if you are in the area.

We spent the rest of the day just hanging out and rocking and rolling in the wind.  Tomorrow we are heading north west so stay tuned.

Enjoy today.

I will leave you with one more AWESOME photo:

 

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4 comments:

Judy Luke Rinehimer said...

YAHOO!!! Did they say when it might be operational?

Diane said...

Hi Judy, We were told that they are currently running tests now. Plus there is another vendor there that launches rockets (also testing). Our tour guide figures it will be sometime in 2014.
Yahoo - and for those who know me and how I get excited over some little things - this was a major excitement and I had to contain myself (which was not easy) :-)))

Anonymous said...

Do you think they will have a REAL road when they open?
Murphy

Diane said...

Hi Murphy, I hope so - LOL... Hope you and Gail are well. Safe travels.