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Spaceport America Takes Off 153

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the hanging-on-a-vote dept.
SeaDour writes "Spaceport America, being built north of Las Cruces, New Mexico, is finally becoming a reality and is set to become the world's first commercial spaceport. Governor Bill Richardson recently secured 33 million dollars from the state legislature for the final design, and a proposed 0.25% sales tax increase in Dona Ana County, where the facility is to be constructed, is expected to bring an additional 6.5 million dollars per year (if approved by voters next week). Richard Branson, the head of upstart Virgin Galactic, on Monday agreed to lease the facility for 27.5 million dollars over twenty years. If all continues to go as planned, SpaceShipTwo will make its first suborbital joy ride in two to three years."
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Spaceport America Takes Off

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  • by hardburn (141468) <hardburn@@@wumpus-cave...net> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:02PM (#18518895)

    Great, another industry being propped up by government revenue. Because that worked so well for the telecommunications industry.

    • by eln (21727) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:13PM (#18519043) Homepage
      There are plenty of states trying to get spaceports built, because a spaceport means high paying jobs. New Mexico gave Virgin Galactic a sweetheart deal, but if they hadn't this thing probably would have been built elsewhere. Commercial space flight is something that will almost certainly continue to grow, especially once we can get past the "joyrides for rich people" stage. I bet a lot of people balked at the idea of building airports at first too.

      With commercial development hopefully driving space flight costs down, we could soon be in a situation where individual states could afford to have their own space programs. We could even get to the point where we could economically use LEO for quick trips to places halfway around the world.

      As space flight (hopefully) becomes more commonplace, this spaceport will be a great thing for New Mexico to have. Yes, it's a big gamble, but it's a gamble that could not only pay off big, but also one that will spark the imaginations of New Mexico school children, and hopefully get them more interested in math and science. If it manages to do that, and maybe spur the creation of aerospace programs at the two major universities in the state, then it's worth it even if it tanks after Virgin Galactic is through with it.
      • by geekoid (135745)
        The deal was the same they could of got anywhere. Maybe better.
        New Mexico is ideal for launching, and the could get facilities next to white sands. Which mean already controlled airspace. in other words location, location, location.
      • by AeroIllini (726211) <aeroillini@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @03:37PM (#18520135)

        We could even get to the point where we could economically use LEO for quick trips to places halfway around the world.
        I agree with your whole comment, but as a space geek I have to take exception at this statement.

        LEO will never be economical for trips between two points on the Earth's surface. The energies involved in getting to that speed are ridiculously high for that short of a distance (relatively speaking, of course). LEO brings a whole host of problems with it, including high reentry temperatures (due to the high velocity needed to attain LEO to begin with) and ridiculous amounts of fuel needed to reach it.

        To put things in perspective: Burt Rutan and crew basically recreated the very first manned Mercury launch (the one with Al Shephard aboard). It was a sub-orbital launch that placed the rocket on a parabolic trajectory... pretty much the same as if you could throw a ball in the air high enough to just barely leave the atmosphere, and then let it fall back to Earth. Since the velocity of the projectile (or spacecraft) is very small when it reenters the atmosphere, no heat shielding is needed.

        On the other hand, to get a vehicle to low Earth orbit requires balancing the force of gravity exactly with forward velocity to create a stable system. This requires velocities in excess of 17,000 mph, which is why spacecraft reentering from orbit need all kinds of heat shielding to protect the craft from the friction of the atmosphere.

        It would be much more economical for a craft to launch at an angle (or start out in flight at high altitudes, with airbreathing jet engines), and gain just enough energy to leave the atmosphere on a parabolic path that would cross much of the trip in the vacuum of space. Reentering would not need much heat shielding, because the velocities would not be as high as an orbital flight, which would make the trip much safer. Such systems using combinations of airbreathing engines and rockets could be very fuel effecient.

        The space shuttle, just after Main Engine Cutoff, is on a parabolic flight path that will have it reenter and land in the Indian Ocean (if it stayed ballistic; the shuttle also has control surfaces and can steer). During missions, it has to fire the engines several more times after MECO to elevate this orbit and attain LEO.

        Traveling between points on the Earth's surface will almost always be suborbital. However, that being said, finding economical ways to get to LEO in the first place is the first step to economical travel to places like the Moon and beyond.
      • There are plenty of states trying to get spaceports built, because a spaceport means high paying jobs.

        That's the theory - but it's unsupported by reality. Plenty of states are trying to build spaceports because they are latest and greatest penis size increaser among the various states.

        I bet a lot of people balked at the idea of building airports at first too.

        Actually - no. There was a massive wave of airport building - because airports meant transport, and transport means commerce. Spac

      • by Fred_A (10934)

        There are plenty of states trying to get spaceports built, because a spaceport means high paying jobs.
        Especially with all those orbit flights and all the people lining up to get off system.

        I mean we Europeans feel really left behind with no spaceport to speak of. I was planning to go visit my cousin in Epsilon Eridani and now I'm going to have to waste hours by going to in New Mexico ? This sucks.

        Wait, what year is this again ?
    • by metlin (258108) * on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:13PM (#18519051) Journal
      I doubt it's like government propping up industries - for one, the industry started taking off quite well (whatever that may entail) without any government intervention.

      Secondly, isn't that part of the role of the government? To create and maintain basic infrastructure that people can use?

      I don't see how this is different from building an airport or from building roads.

      The telecom thing did not take off because the government was trying to provide a service - this is not particularly a service, this is building an infrastructure that could be used by others.

      Besides, I think this is the sort of thing governments *should* do - beats the hell out of making condoms or TV sets (look at some socialist countries where the telecom thing was taking to an extreme, where the government started doing just about everything).

      Best of both worlds, IMHO.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Secondly, isn't that part of the role of the government? To create and maintain basic infrastructure that people can use?

        Careful, there... according to a surprisingly large portion of active posters on slashdot, the sole purpose of government is to keep individuals from infringing on the rights of other individuals -- in short, to keep people from killing you or stealing from you. Infrastructure should be paid for by the people directly benefiting from it, as there is no recognition of a public good -- thi

      • Secondly, isn't that part of the role of the government? To create and maintain basic infrastructure that people can use?

        It is. But amusement parks aren't basic infrastructure.

        I don't see how this is different from building an airport or from building roads.

        Airports, highways, spaceports. Two enable transportation and commerce. One provides support for glorified joy rides. The difference should be obvious.

    • by burning-toast (925667) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:42PM (#18519399)
      What I am all for:
      Government funding technology and scientific development in the private sector, and reigning in corporations such as AT&T (well, ok... previously they reigned in AT&T but I am still waiting for the "New" AT&T to be reigned in) when they start abusing their positions of power.

      What I am against:
      The government being the source of funding for "useless" technology, corporations abusing their position like the telecommunications companies currently, or funding pork barrel types of projects or initiatives.

      My opinion is that we want government funding to turn space flight into a future commodity which many can enjoy (especially since NASA's budget has been flagging a lot recently). I certainly do not currently see an issue with their funding unless their actual goals are different than my perceived assumption, or if someone is just trying to make a small fortune off of the American citizens back VIA taxes and subsidies without providing equal compensation to those paying.

      Considering this was FTA:
      ---
      Now the voters in the Dona Ana County municipality where the project is to be located will weigh in, in a referendum scheduled for April 3 on a new sales tax to fund the project.

      If Spaceport America meets with voter approval, a maiden space voyage is expected in two to three years. If passed, the new tax would add 25 cents to a 100-dollar purchase, bringing in about 6.5 million dollars per year.
      ---

      My take is that the voters will decide, and fortunately we are talking state (county?) legislature, not federal taxes. If you don't like the project, vote against it. If you don't live in that county or other involved counties in New Mexico, don't like it, and hence won't be paying for it, why do you care?

      It seems that this is not really pork barrel spending like the telecommunications stuff was. That (telecommunications stuff) was just a lot of people getting a lot of money, with minimal to no returns for the people actually funding it. And on top of that I don't ever recall there being a method for me to directly vote against any of that telecommunications spending myself, only by proxy of a congress critter.

      This is New Mexico funding a project which could (potentially) net New Mexico tourisim dollars, not to mention all this research and development is (or would be) paying for people to have jobs, and hence, pay taxes into the program.

      I wish them luck, and if they (or the other two states mentioned get this program off of the ground) I might consider taking a tour if the price ever comes down from the clouds or if I happen to get rich.

      (Just my 2 cents)
    • Methinks it worked very well for the telecommunications industry -- maybe not so well for the general public.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GooberToo (74388)
      While I agree with your grumblings, I also believe it is the job of a government to prop up critical infrastructure. Items such as telephone, roads, railways, and even plane travel deserve some loving...if needed. Believe it or not, even commercial aviation is frequently used for military purposes (transport) because they can do it cheaper and faster than the military can. So which would you rather pay, the goverment to do it slowly and cost 20x more than it should or for the government to pay for a comm
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ngarrang (1023425)
      Earth to Major Tom, we have a problem.

      Some government propping is a good thing (OSHA, Fair Labor Laws). For big business, it is all about who will give the company the best deal, which usually means no taxes. When Miller Brewery built their facility near Trenton, Ohio, they didn't produce any bear at it for a decade. It wasn't until the local government threatened to pull the exempt status that Miller opened the factory and, thus, local workers.

      Wal-Mart in Oxford, Ohio moved its store location to outside
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ParaShoot (992496)

        When Miller Brewery built their facility near Trenton, Ohio, they didn't produce any bear at it for a decade.
        I love the idea of a bear factory. Great mental images.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by louks (1075763)
      Our city and state governments in Indiana are spending hundreds of millions of dollars building a new stadium for the Indianapolis Colts to continue to play football here. We will still owe tens of millions on the old stadium when we tear it down. Did I mention the tax hike on each stadium, too?

      The spaceport actually slightly more acceptable, especially if it translates into high-speed, intercontinental travel.
  • by jwiegley (520444) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:05PM (#18518945)

    Am I the only one that sees the oxymoron here... "the world's first commercial spaceport" vs "Governor Bill Richardson recently secured 33 million dollars from the state legislature for the final design, and a proposed 0.25% sales tax increase in Dona Ana County,

    This is a government spaceport. Possible deployed to deliver commercial products into space but it should be billed corrected as a government facility. Yet another shining example of your tax dollars at work. I am glad I don't live in that state/county but I fully expect that when a tornado or hurricane wipes it out I will have to foot the FEMA bill for it.

    I'm not against space ports. But if Virgin Galactic wants a facility then Virgin Galactic should foot the bill for it.

    • by metlin (258108) * on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:10PM (#18519001) Journal
      Ummm, if you'd read the article you'd know that Virgin Galactic is leasing out parts of the space port.

      And they aren't leasing out the whole facilities, only portions of it. Now, if this took off, there would doubtless be others who would build something like this and they too could lease the facility.

      This is more like the government building the first airport so that more people fly to/from a particularly destination. More people fly out from the Spaceport to see space means NM gets more revenue and the tourism improves. And the companies providing the service will also have to pay the state of NM for use of the facility.

      If Virgin was the only company that did it, what is the point? There is no competition and others cannot use the facility. This way, NM keeps the prime real-estate and gets to make money out of it.
      • by jwiegley (520444) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @03:08PM (#18519693)

        Since you brought up government subsidized airfields... Do you mean "NM keeps the prime real-estate and gets to make money out of it." in the same way that the US government turns a tidy profit these days from the airfields/airlines that it subsidized?

        No, I read that Virgin is leasing. Virgin is getting a cheaper cost of vehicle launch at the expense of government tax payers with the state expecting [hoping would be a better word] to make 6.5Million annually.

        Sorry, Virgin has a shill in the NM government that is acquiring an economic windfall for them on the public's dime. All the economic risk that Virgin should be bearing is being shifted to the public.

        Commercial money should fund commercial ventures. The government should not be involved in the business of making money because it has been proven time and time again that government efforts cannot be done efficiently and do not make money.

        And there is a basic flaw with your economic argument... If it is going to be profitable and sustainable to provide this facility why do they need to raise sales taxes? Because the truth is they expect to make a net loss each year and need additional tax revenue to break even. (Yes, you can bring in 6.5Million every year and still have a net loss.)

        • the same way that the US government turns a tidy profit these days from the airfields/airlines that it subsidized?

          The US government does receive a lot of revenue on the airfields it builds. Its just like spending on public highways, there is no direct revenue, but the indirect revenue of enabling commerce far outweighs the cost.

          The government should not be involved in the business of making money because it has been proven time and time again that government efforts cannot be done efficiently and do not

        • by smallpaul (65919)

          If it is going to be profitable and sustainable to provide this facility why do they need to raise sales taxes? Because the truth is they expect to make a net loss each year and need additional tax revenue to break even.

          The people of Dona Ana county want their county to be the "Silicon Valley" or "Hollywood" or "Wall Street" of the commercial space business. It's a gamble, but on that they have a right to make. Governments all over the world are making similar investments and sometimes they work and oth

    • by Darth_brooks (180756) <clipper377@nOSPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:16PM (#18519079) Homepage
      I am glad I don't live in that state/county but I fully expect that when a tornado or hurricane wipes it out I will have to foot the FEMA bill for it.

      Because South-Central New Mexico is such a hotbed for Hurricane & Tornado activity......

      +1 for observation
      -1 for geography & meteorology
      • Hurricanes, obviously not. Tornadoes don't often occur in that part of New Mexico, but it is possible. (There was a near-tornado in Las Cruces last summer.) Heck, if we're considering low-probability events, I suppose there could be a massive earthquake from the Rio Grande Rift. There was a 5.8 earthquake in the Soccoro area back in 1906, after all.
      • by soft_guy (534437)

        Because South-Central New Mexico is such a hotbed for Hurricane & Tornado activity......
        The climate is changing, so anything is possible.

        Whatever, if the people of new mexico want to be ripped off funding an obvious fraud, then they are idiots.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:18PM (#18519097) Journal
      I think if you check out the definitions of commercial available [google.com] from a quick googling, you'll see that the definition typically has nothing to do with whether it's publically or privately funded. What's important is whether the facility will be used to buy or sell commodities (or services) or not.

      Governments have always been involved in commercial operations. The two are not mutually exclusive. This could be a government-run commercial spaceport, or it could be a government-owned-but-privately-run commercial spaceport, or it could be a non-commercial spaceport.

      Commercial != Private.

      Of course, many people believe that government should not be involved in commercial activity at all, which is what I think you're getting at. But it's still perfectly fine to call this a commercial spaceport regardless of who owns or runs it, since goods and services will be bought and sold there.
      • by jwiegley (520444)

        Agreed. And yes my point is that government should not be involved in commercial activity.

        But I also don't think it's fine to call it a commercial spaceport because I think the most widely accepted connotation of that is "private industry run/managed/funded spaceport" and is used as a deceptive marketing ploy to lead the public to believe that it isn't being funded by themselves.

        Just because a definition list encompasses an alternate meaning does not change the fact that most slashdot readers will read th

        • by geekoid (135745)
          " I think the most widely accepted connotation of that is "private industry run/managed/funded spaceport" "

          Well, your wrong.

          The state it will be tax dollars that help get this giong, and the state there may be a tax raise. So nobody but you seem to think this is some kind of 'trick the public' conspiracy.

          "Just because a definition list encompasses an alternate meaning does not change the fact that most slashdot readers will read that headline and say "Finally a private effort for space launch!" (similar to
    • Whether it's a commercial or government spaceport isn't based on who pays for it, but rather on who collects the profits.

      - RG>
    • by AK Marc (707885) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:23PM (#18519155)
      And what defines a commercial spaceport? I've visited the first non-federally owned facility (verified for the US, presumed for the world). Like this one, it will be linked to state funding, but isn't owned or run by them directly. So I'm thinking that the first commercial spaceport is the Alaska Aerospace Development Corporation's Kodiak Launch Complex. You give them money and a rocket, and they put it in space. And with their latitude, they are the best launch facility in the world for polar orbits.
      • by SeaDour (704727)
        Perhaps the Kodiak Launch Complex is not being referred to as the first commercial spaceport because it may not really be a spaceport. I think the term "port" implies that vehicles can both leave and arrive at the same destination, but Kodiak just puts payloads into orbit. I only know of three true spaceports that exist in the United States (Edwards Air Force Base, White Sands Space Harbor, and Cape Canaveral) and they are all run exclusively for government vehicles.
        • by AK Marc (707885)
          Bah, you can just splashdown in the ocean next to it. Or, more practically, you can do what is done with shuttle launches. You launch from one place and land in another. That's most practical when the launch facilities are independent from the landing facilities, as they are with a vertically launched vehicle that lands horizontally. But it would be convenient to have landing near the launching site.
    • http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/commercial [reference.com]

      So in what way does building something and then charging the people that use it not qualify as commercial?
    • by Kemanorel (127835)
      Last I checked, airports are built using public funds, just as roads, highways, and freeways are. The only exceptions are totally private airstrips. Of the publicly funded airports, they are generally either municipal (smaller private planes, usually Cesna or Lear-type planes and jets, only limited by size of runways) or commercial (larger passenger and cargo planes of varying classifications). In both cases, fees are collected from those who use the facility as well as local taxes from the neighboring c
    • by C0y0t3 (807909)
      Pan Am didn't build LAX. This is a port, and they are not built by commercial interests - they facilitate commercial and thereby public interests. It is an investment of exactly the same nature as a highway, also pretty hard to charge the cost of to its users directly, but it could be argued that taxes from subsequent revenue do indeed recoup public investment.

      Ideally, businesses who use the service alone should be taxed to foot the bill, hence the obvious argument here should be against personal incom
    • It's worth noting that airports, despite being used almost exclusively by commercial interests, are built using taxpayer funds as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vertinox (846076)
      This is a government spaceport.

      Isn't that the same for most FAA airports? Basically, the airports are run by the federal agency and leased by private corporations?

      Certainly there should be some regulation of space travel like regular air travel.

      No one wants a Boeing 747 or Multi-Stage rocket crashing in their neighborhood.
      • This is a government spaceport.

        Isn't that the same for most FAA airports? Basically, the airports are run by the federal agency and leased by private corporations?

         
        No. The FAA doesn't own, or operate any (commercial) airports. Typically they are run by either a state or (more commonly) local (city/county) goverment, or by a semi-independent quasi-govermental organization beholden to a local goverment.
    • Chicago O'Hare is a government airport. Possible deployed for use by commercial airplanes but it should be billed corrected as a government facility. Yet another shining example of your tax dollars at work. I am glad I don't live in that state/county but I fully expect that when a tornado or hurricane wipes it out I will have to foot the FEMA bill for it.

      I'm not against airports. But if United Airlines wants a facility then United Airlines should foot the bill for it.


      Not sure I see the distinction here. Gov
    • by GooberToo (74388)
      Am I the only one that sees the oxymoron here... "the world's first commercial spaceport" vs "Governor Bill Richardson recently secured 33 million dollars from the state legislature for the final design, and a proposed 0.25% sales tax increase in Dona Ana County,

      Makes as much sense as county and state funded football fields. At least this can hope to further the interests of all men.
    • by FleaPlus (6935)
      I'm not against space ports. But if Virgin Galactic wants a facility then Virgin Galactic should foot the bill for it.

      How do you feel about the many commercial airports which receive government funding (in many cases orders of magnitude more money than this spaceport is getting)?
      • by SEE (7681)
        Well, he's got an Ayn Rand quote as his .sig. How do you think he feels about it?
    • by SEE (7681)
      but I fully expect that when a tornado or hurricane wipes it out I will have to foot the FEMA bill for it.

      This is Doña Anna County in New Mexico. If a hurricane wipes it out, it will have done so after traveling at least 600 miles overland and over a mountain range. If that happens, your FEMA bill is going to be so high you're not even going to notice the extra charge for repairing a spaceport.
  • 1: Build Space port for $33 Million
    2: Lease to Richard Branson for $27.5 million for 20 years.
    3: Raise taxes!

    • by geekoid (135745)
      3. Draw more tax revenue from the new jobs and the business support

      The people will profit from having a commercial center, and a big high tech draw.
  • Branson, is going to lease 83,000 square feet for $1 million a year. Does anyone know if this is only a small part of the space port or will he be taking the biggest spot?
    • by tompaulco (629533)
      I wish I could find industrial space for lease for $1/SF/month. In my part of the U.S., industrial space is very cheap compared to other markets. Around here, it is between $7-$15/SF/month.
      If Branson is getting it for $1, that pretty much shouts "government subsidy" to me.
      The good citizens of the town in New Mexico may be smart to allow this tax raise though. If commercial space travel takes off (excuse the pun), their town will reap huge benefits in jobs, tourism, commerce and industry.
      • Actually, that's not uncommon in non-major markets. You can find industrial space in S/W Virginia for under $10/sf/yr. You can buy land and build your own facility for $50/SF. And they'll probably give you some tax breaks - or lease you the land for $1 - if you plan on brining in 50 or more jobs.

        My professional office is about $8/sf/month, though going rates are closer to $12-15 in buildings with a bit more curb appeal.

        I would have expected a more targeted increase on taxes, though. Usually the hospitalit
      • by eln (21727)
        The land being used is in a large patch of desert between Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The land is too arid and rocky to be of any use for farming, and none of the surrounding communities are expanding fast enough to use this space in the foreseeable future.

        It's not like they're taking high quality land and giving it away here. They're taking otherwise useless land and building something that could possibly pay off big for the whole state.
      • by SEE (7681) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @03:58PM (#18520397) Homepage
        This is Doña Anna County, New Mexico. The land we're talking about is scrub desert too far from anywhere to be of any use for industry, and too dry to be of any use for any form of agriculture. There's lots of land just like it next door. What's getting government-subsidized is the cost of building the utilities and roads, because the land itself is the next thing to free.
        • by mypalmike (454265)
          The land we're talking about is scrub desert too far from anywhere to be of any use for industry, and too dry to be of any use for any form of agriculture.

          That's what they said about Las Vegas!

          (BTW: I'd put this argument in the "pro-spaceport" column.)
        • by tompaulco (629533)
          No arguments about the general uselessness of the land, but as soon as you build an infrastructure of any sort on the land, it is worth far more than $1/SF/month.
          The same thing happens here in Oklahoma. A developer buys 100 acres for $150k, puts in some roads and utilities, zones it into individual lots and sells the lots for $40k each. However, the Branson deal is almost as if the government went in and put in the roads and infrastructure and sold him his lost at less than his apportioned cost of the infr
          • by SEE (7681)
            Industrial land in El Paso, which actually has people living in it that you'd be able to hire to work for you, runs in the range $2.75-$6.00 a square foot. The spaceport is in the middle of nowhere compared to El Paso. While the land is being subsidized relative to the costs, it's not being highly subsidized relative to the value; a private developer who installed utilities wouldn't find customers for the land at $2/SF.
  • ...unless it has a Starbuck's.
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:13PM (#18519053) Homepage Journal
    ..will there be lemon-soaked paper napkins?
  • by haaz (3346) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:21PM (#18519129) Homepage
    And my two thoughts are:

    1. This will be very good for that part of New Mexico. As a whole, the state is relatively poor.

    2. What on earth would you use a spaceport for? I don't think in terms of eighth grade pulp sci-fi these days (think Tek Jansen), so seriously, what would a spaceport be for?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Paulrothrock (685079)

      A spaceport, by definition, is where you launch and recover spacecraft. So I'd imagine that this spaceport would be used to launch and recover spacecraft.

      More specifically, it will be the launching point for the Virgin Galactic fleet of space tourism vehicles, and will probably also host the launches of various space prize competitions and commercial launch companies.

      If they can provide a cheaper service than ESA or NASA, I don't see why it won't be profitable for the state.

    • by elcid73 (599126) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:29PM (#18519253) Homepage

      what would a spaceport be for?

      Well obviously... where else would you put the space cantina?
    • What on earth would you use a spaceport for? I don't think in terms of eighth grade pulp sci-fi these days (think Tek Jansen), so seriously, what would a spaceport be for?

      Basically, it's so a special plane can take people up very very high off the ground just barely into what could be called "outer space" but without going into orbit or beyond. It's a way for tourists to go to "outer space" without having to have the months of training and the multi-millions of dollars required to hitch a ride with the R
    • Companies are right now racing to get to space. They're doing this for a number of reasons, some for industrial and scientific purposes (putting satellites in orbit, sticking experiments up there without paying the fees to get stuff on the space shuttle), some for commercial purposes (for only $500,000 you too can experience zero gravity).

      Since most rocket launches produce a ridiculous amount of noise, heat and damage to the surrounding environment, they can't launch from airports or private land (unless
    • by kabocox (199019)
      And my two thoughts are:
      1. This will be very good for that part of New Mexico. As a whole, the state is relatively poor.
      2. What on earth would you use a spaceport for? I don't think in terms of eighth grade pulp sci-fi these days (think Tek Jansen), so seriously, what would a spaceport be for?


      Tourism. Instead of going NASA space camp, the NM space interested can just go visit their nice, nifty space port. If aliens ever come and visit, they'd have a "space port" ready for them.
    • "What on earth would you use a spaceport for?"

      Take wife into outer space where normal earth laws don't apply. Saves on divorce proceedings.

      Ok that would explain why I'm single then, I'm proposing space travel to get rid of annoying wives...
      BTW does anyone know what laws apply in outer space to ordinary citizens, is it the same as the open seas?
  • The amounts of money mentioned seem rather low for a space port, they seem more in line with a cruise line port or fancy bus station.
  • I am amused that the summary says it will be the first commercial spaceport, while the "related" section points to http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/12/1 6/1736213 [slashdot.org], an article from last year about the mid-atlantic regional spaceport's first launch.

    This will be the first purpose-built commercial spaceport. That's a key distinction.
  • ... a duty free shop?
  • I would start making contacts right now to secure a position in this space port.

    It's a risk, but the potential pay off and wow factor would be to large to ignore.

  • Or will the taxpayers of that county be subsidizing the sending of dubiously talented pop stars into the really really upper atmosphere?

    Just playing devil's advocate here, but people are going to ask that question or something similar.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      I would imagine, much like aircraft, at first it will be for commercial and High Upper class. evential there will be a coach class.
  • "Spaceport America, Fuck Yeah"

Your own mileage may vary.

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