We may not have gotten those cool hover-cars we wanted, or the personal robots, but the future is alive and well in New Mexico, where Governor Susana Martinez recently got together with Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic to dedicate the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space“–i.e., Spaceport America, which also happens to have earned LEED Gold certification.
This iconic 120,000 square-foot building was designed by United Kingdom-based Foster + Partners, along with URS Corporation and local New Mexico architects SMPC, the trio that won an international competition in 2007 to build the first private spaceport in the world. While the destination of passengers departing from the spaceport may be “out of this world,” the materials used to construct it are distinctly down to earth, locally sourced and assembled using appropriate regional construction techniques. Sustainable features including geothermal heating and cooling.
During the official dedication of the spaceport recently, visitors to the facility (450 of which have already prepaid their own space excursions) caught a glimpse of Virgin Galactic’s commercial space vehicles, the WhiteKnightTwo and the SpaceShipTwo, as they soared through the skies of southern New Mexico. In his rather unique style, Branson and his children brought the event to its conclusion via rappelling together from the roof of the building.
The building includes a combined terminal and hangar facility that will support up to two WhiteKnightTwo and five SpaceShipTwo vehicles. Additionally, The Gateway will house all of the company’s astronaut preparation and celebration facilities, a mission control center, and a friends and family area.
Can’t afford a space vacation this year? There is also space committed to public access via the planned New Mexico Spaceport Authority’s Visitor Experience.