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Transportation Space Science Technology

New Mexico Spaceport Nearly Ready For Business 96

Posted by timothy
from the if-no-pun-why-mention dept.
Cutting_Crew writes "I am sure many of us have heard about this story, but it looks like Spaceport America is finally ready to take off (no pun intended). The latest construction pictures [Note: database might be slightly flaky] are up to view. Want to be one of the first to take a ride? It will set you back $200,000. I don't know how many people will be able to afford such a trip, outside of Las Vegas, Hollywood, Cupertino, Redmond, and few retirees, but I suppose they are thinking that they can make their money back with this project in the long term. Touring the space frontier seems a little steep. A lot of people are just trying to make living without being foreclosed on."
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New Mexico Spaceport Nearly Ready For Business

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 20, 2011 @02:22AM (#37151130)

    Either become a journalist and write your stupid "Oh my god, the world is so unfair! There are rich and poor people, OMG!" or you write unbiased, nice summary for slashdot.

    What does this summary here serve? Some author who wants to point the moral finger? That, yet nothing else, was indeed achieved...

    • by gtvr (1702650)
      Thank you. If there's something that generates economic activity, it will end up helping poor people, too. There are jobs to be had at places like this, including construction, logistics, food services and more. If someone is spending 200K/pop, it's not all going to the parent company, there are expenses related to operations and that's what makes up our economy - people spending money, other people providing services & turning a profit.
      • Ohh, St. Reagan's Voodoo Economics, peace be upon him. Listen, mate, the US have a wealth disparity that is about the level of a third world banana republic. Nothing is trickling down, except the rich pissing on the rest. It is the goddamn fucking duty of any journalist worth his salt to point this out at every possible occasion.
        • Ohh, St. Reagan's Voodoo Economics, peace be upon him. Listen, mate, the US have a wealth disparity that is about the level of a third world banana republic. Nothing is trickling down, except the rich pissing on the rest.

          Voodoo Economics don't work because the rich have a lower Marginal Propensity to Consume - they tend to spend a smaller proportion and save a larger proportion of their income than the poor. Here, we have something that might convince the rich to actually cough up some of their dough instead of just sitting on it. That should help both the economy and us, the poor.

        • by khallow (566160)

          Ohh, St. Reagan's Voodoo Economics, peace be upon him. Listen, mate, the US have a wealth disparity that is about the level of a third world banana republic. Nothing is trickling down, except the rich pissing on the rest. It is the goddamn fucking duty of any journalist worth his salt to point this out at every possible occasion.

          There are two things to note here. First, if you screw over the people who hire, then they hire less people. True story! Second, if you pass a bunch of bullshit regulations, taxes, and welfare, then only the big, ammoral corporations or government agencies can jump through the hoops (or ignore the hoops in the case of the government agencies) in order to function. Instead of fixing the problem, the ideologues are just blaming the same old causes while they make things worse.

          • Indeed. And the same old causes that are blamed again and again are taxes and regulations. Why is it, oh, high priest of St. Reagan, peace be upon him, that at a point with historically low taxes on the wealthy, unemployment is soaring? Why is it that the Gini coefficient has risen to third world level in the last 3 decades?
            • by khallow (566160)

              Why is it, oh, high priest of St. Reagan, peace be upon him, that at a point with historically low taxes on the wealthy, unemployment is soaring? Why is it that the Gini coefficient has risen to third world level in the last 3 decades?

              First, because there's huge costs to hiring people in the US. These costs have been greatly inflated by the very people who purport to help workers. Second, the Gini coefficient merely is a measure of income inequity. It doesn't say whether that inequity comes from trickle down tax cuts for the wealthy or regulation. My view is that regulation dominates since it can become considerably harder regulation-wise to hire and pay for people in the US.

              • by thrich81 (1357561)
                There has been a fairly large disparity in the cost of labor in the US vs most 3rd world countries since at least WWII, it's just that for the first 30 years after that war, the state of the rest of the world and transportation and communications infrastructure did not allow the corporations to exercise unbridled, unaccountable greed like they do now. For example, you couldn't have a call center outside the US with 1960's tech communications infrastructure. If the captains of industry in 1955 had been abl
                • by khallow (566160)

                  it's just that for the first 30 years after that war, the state of the rest of the world and transportation and communications infrastructure did not allow the corporations to exercise unbridled, unaccountable greed like they do now

                  As obvious counterexamples, consider the oil production industry in the Middle East prior to 1970 or the nuclear power industry prior to the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents. The infrastructure makes businesses (not just corporations) more accountable now than ever. The internet distributes knowledge far more readily. Businesses are far more regulated. Yet we have people who deny the obvious.

                  If the captains of industry in 1955 had been able to outsource their labor to where the prevailing wage was 5 cents/hr then, they would have eagerly done so.

                  And they did so (yet another counterexample). Hence, the present.

                  It is a classic 'race to the bottom' now as far as workers' compensation and living standards are concerned. It's bad for most of us but may be inevitable since the corps have pretty much captured the government (we need another Teddy Roosevelt!).

                  You need to be worth more than what you're

    • But I'm going to build a Taco Stand at the entrance for the crowds of onlookers when these things take off.
    • by Zandali (2440080)
      So true. Stupid summary when everything is relative. The 'Hollywood' and 'Redmond' money thing is so lame and reminiscent of twelve-year-old world view. I am putting cash aside for a trip up in 2016, and I make a 'normal' living. When you get back from space they will even give you astronaut wings, a novelty, but it gives one definite IRLpeen strokability when you sport them around town.
  • It will set you back $200,000. I don't know how many people will be able to afford such a trip, outside of Las Vegas, Hollywood, Cupertino, Redmond, and few retirees, but I suppose they are thinking that they can make their money back with this project in the long term.

    When you have something with limited availability you start with those customers with a higher willingness to pay and charge them something at or near their perceived value. When you have exhausted this segment of the market you can lower the price and go for the next tier down. Walking down the prices in this manner maximizes revenue, everyone pays near their perceived value. So they are really making their money back in the shortest term possible.

    • by sirdude (578412) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @02:46AM (#37151200)
      A chartered flight, depending on the distance, will cost something like USD12000 an hour. That'd make the longest flight, Singapore to Newark, which clocks in as an 18 hour stretch, set you back USD216000. Going to space for less than that is a bloody bargain.

      Presumably, space flights will also have cabin crew. That will probably become one of the most coveted jobs out there :)

      *sigh*

  • by Sooner Boomer (96864) <sooner.boomrNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday August 20, 2011 @03:31AM (#37151324) Journal
    I mean, if you want a "Spaceport", why not go to where the facilities are the best [state.ok.us]? The Okla. Spaceport in Burns Flat has longer, wider runways (13,503' x 300' w/1000 overruns versus only 10,000' x 200'), better access to major transportation and major population centers, 50,000 square foot manufacturing facility with loading docks adjacent to main line rail spur, and a golf course on site. BTW, it's where Armadillo Aerospace [armadilloaerospace.com] goes to play
    • The Okla. Spaceport in Burns Flat has longer, wider runways (13,503' x 300' w/1000 overruns versus only 10,000' x 200'),

      That seems kind of trivial to expand if deemed necessary. How are you faring for a comparable emergency landing and test site [wikipedia.org]?

      better access to major transportation and major population centers

      And you think population proximity makes it a great place for launching what will be essentially experimental bombs? (maybe even with nuclear fuel [nasa.gov])

      and a golf course on site

      Just in case exploring new frontiers of our universe ever gets dull.

      I imagine the NM site is a little more fuel efficient for being closer to the equator and a somewhat higher elevation, and pretty stellar for weather (one of the reasons

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      I don't understand why they build a spaceport on the airport model. The ticket is 200,000$, they would be expecting what ? 20 clients a year ? Make it 100... Airports' architecture is designed for big flows of passengers and is made to accomodate them using as few personnel as possible. Obviously on a space port you will have mainly rich clients that will expect a bit more service than in a regular airport...
      • Well, hopefully prices will come down in the future and more people will be able to afford it. Might as well build it prepared to handle increased volume.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      It's a battle of titans, as Oklahoma and New Mexico square off in the ultimate spaceport showdown! Who will triumph, and who will be vanquished, in this mortal struggle for supremacy in the under-4-million-residents and 40th-place-or-worse-in-4th-grade-reading-skills division! In one corner: the flat, wide open, lands of New Mexico free of rivers and freshly cleared by raging forest fires. In the other conrner, the flat, wide open lands of Oklahoma, where tornadoes keep the proliferation of double-wides
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 20, 2011 @03:40AM (#37151356)

    I hate when people use the phrase "no pun intended". Especially when it's typed. Especially when its obvious the phrase was, in fact, there to POINT OUT the pun... sigh

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Was anybody else reminded of Star Trek first contact by the summary? The scene there seemed to exhibit quite a bit of wealth disparity too. It's the same old story.

    Ladeling out soup at the local shelter is a dull necessity--it probably didn't inspire the people of the 1930s the way airships, airplanes and Buck Rogers movies did. All of those things could have been dismissed as frivolities. Today, airlines employ thousands and soup kitchens are still... soup kitchens.

    Don't get me wrong. There's nothing

  • Quite a few. There tens of thousands of people worldwide worth more than $30 million, and just in America, 3 million millionaires (and that's not including residential property as part of the calculation).

    The people struggling to pay for somewhere to live aren't exactly the target market.
  • What is Area 51, Alex?

  • The big difference here, in contrast to Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg, is the elimination of vertical launchpads.
    Keep in mind that NASA wisely chose to launch space missions from strategic spots where, in case of a mishap, the rocket crashes in the ocean.
    Can you imagine the catastrophe of tons and tons of ignited LOX flooding a populated area? NASA did.

    This is why NASA is hunting around for alternative launch spots with the exact same geographic characteristics as the current ones, Guyana has made some noi

    • Here's a puzzling fact I just checked on Wikipedia: Baikonur's elevation is a measly 100 meters above sea level.
      Why didn't the USSR choose someplace high in the Urals?

      • by sznupi (719324)
        Baikonur started as a missile range. It was only sensible to merely expand (vs. new expensive mega-construction project) and use it as a spaceport - and not only because, for example, "the most reliable ... most frequently used launch vehicle in the world" [esa.int] is a direct descendant [wikipedia.org] of the first operational ICBM (developed and tested at Baikonur)...

        ...also because things which made it a great missile test range, make it a good spaceport, too. And plains are a bit more handy, easier to work on, when it comes
      • by Anonymous Coward

        There is nothing 'measly' about Baikonur.
        In Mother Russia our meters are 10000 times the size your *measly* western meters.
        That places Baikonur already in space without rocket.
        School children wear space suit to ride bicycle there.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Ecuador would be a nice place for a spaceport, and a nice place for a space elevator on the same site later...

    • by sznupi (719324) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @08:00AM (#37152076) Homepage
      Of course hat big, lovable(?) difference means they are at least an order of magnitude away, in energy expenditure required, from being able to reach orbit.

      Locations are not that much of a problem, a lot of Earth's area is an ocean. Also, industrial complexes tend to be near coastline (even if their specific area is unsuitable for launches, it makes for an easy means to transport large cargo). Besides, the spaceport in question is also in rather desolated area. And generally, it's largely also about planned "crashes" of staging.

      Those scramjet vehicles, that pop out now and then, might be possibly better described as "missile demonstrator" or "weapons carrier" ...probably closer to the most feasible and/or intended function (which follow the form, and vice versa; nice overall, less geopolitical complications than with ICBMs, and without the need to have a launcher placed in the theatre (or bomber carrier getting nearby), how convenient; the good old search for tech which can destabilize the balance and trigger a new arms race / sales).

      When you really seriously do the math (like they did with HOTOL, for example), ~winged orbital vehicles using the atmosphere during launch turn out not really better than a "dumb rocket" using comparable materials ...which for a spaceplane are required to make it even barely feasible. Similarly, 3 km of elevation won't make much of a difference - the rockets cover that very quickly. Their main goal is not height, but speed (launching near equator is more worthwhile)

      And X-34 (plus few others being worked on, Dream Chaser for example) is just a payload of ordinary rocket.

      More generally, historically, everybody at first expected "aerodynamic" or "spaceplane-ish" shapes from reentry vehicles, and worked towards it hard. They proved relatively unworkable. Blunt shape entry capsule was quite late innovation, an improvement; and a bit of a surprise. There's nothing wrong with capsules. Physics, rocket equation, are a bitch - and they override dreams (here, about expected modes of space travel); dreams unduly extrapolating rates and directions of observed progress. Look at those airplanes [goo.gl] from "our" times (imagined during rapid advances of marine tech; and we can even build them - take a Harrier, remove wings and canopy... still a horrible idea vs. "boring" reality [wikimedia.org]).

      Consider how the "spaceplanes" came to dominate scifi... around the 40s, during rapid advances of airplane tech (I can see a pattern...); how the designers and decision-makers of the Shuttle were undoubtedly raised on those works of fiction. How they gave us an analogue of Catalina, at best (Spruce Goose, at worst); but something which looked very soothing and "inspiring" to the already constrained public imagination, already quite accustomed to airliners / Concorde. Something which probably robbed us at least of a decade of progress; was conceptually obsolete (with automatic rendezvous, docking and routine return of large valuable cargo done since the 60s) before it seriously got onto drawing boards. Wasting most of upmass on airframe; a lot of good that does in space ...where it doesn't matter how "sleek" something looks. We build vehicles meant for various environments in very different, specific ways. Making a spacecraft out of an aircraft appears to have limited utility (and by the time it maybe-who-knows might, we could be on our way to in-situ manufacturing and making the "from reactive atmosphere to low orbit" problem uninteresting)

      Grandiose, fabulous, "awesome" styles typical of scifi (again, works of fiction) mostly just constrain public imagination, make them expect something palatable, nothing too uncomfortable and too
    • by paiute (550198)

      Can you imagine the catastrophe of tons and tons of ignited LOX flooding a populated area?

      I'm having trouble just imagining the ignited LOX.

  • "...Touring the space frontier seems a little steep. A lot of people are just trying to make living in a home a reality without being foreclosed on."

    Uh, remember that old saying? Goes something like "the rich keep getting richer..."?

    Yeah, that's not just some old nursery rhyme. It's pretty much the reason we're in this financial mess, so don't sit here and make it sound like we're gonna struggle to find the rich out there willing to part with a paltry $200K. If anyone thought that was anywhere close to reality, Spaceport America would have never been built.

  • I don't know how many people will be able to afford such a trip, outside of Las Vegas, Hollywood, Cupertino, Redmond, and few retirees,

    On the Forbes' list of billionaires, only 7 of the top 20 are americans. So presumably the majority of people that services like this are intended for will not be american nationals, either. To only consider one (5% of the world's population) country as the potential client-base is incredibly parochial and I'm sure the space travel industry won't make that mistake.

    • by sznupi (719324)
      Also, the same endeavour apparently wants to operate from the Swedish spaceport near Kiruna, and somewhere from the Emirates I believe (and somebody else out of an island off the coast of Venezuela, IIRC)

      It's not merely about being open to the widest market, I think (after all, most people interested in a suborbital ride can easily come to the US) - a view from the height 100 km of northern Scandinavia or Persian Gulf (or Caribbean) should be much more interesting, as far as tourist rides are concerned,
    • Uh why only billionaires? The US has over a million millionaires. These aren't all retired living off savings. There are thousands if not tens of thousands of capable travelers in the US. OTOH I'm sure there are at least an ewual amount abroad - so the market is really substantial. It's at least as viable as 5 diamond hotels and private luxury aircraft and seacraft.

  • It's worth a couple hundred for me to hang out in the terminal and watch commercial space flights landing and taking off as nonchalantly as though it were Logan (airport, that is). Even if I can't go up, it would still feel good to watch the activity man's nascent commercial space adventures.
  • Man, you're really bad at snark.
  • by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Saturday August 20, 2011 @09:17AM (#37152592)

    You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.

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