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Spaceport America Gets FAA License 61

DynaSoar writes "Spaceport America received an early and double holiday gift this week: first, the expected (positive) FAA environmental impact report, and second, the hoped-for but not immediately expected 'launch site operator's license.' With this license, and with the previously accomplished creation of a tax district, two of three pieces are in place as required by the New Mexico legislature to receive its funding package. The third, a lease with a space services tenant to use the facility, may come this week also, in the form of a contract with Virgin Galactic. While timing is impossible to predict, the contract is a virtual certainty. The New Mexico Spaceport Authority fully expects it, and so has projected late 2010 for completion of hangar and terminal facilities. Virgin Galactic also seems confident, as they have already screened and submitted their first 100 customers (called the Virgin Galactic Founders) to their contracted medical and training supervisor. They are busy screening their second 100 'spaceflight participants' (NASA and RKA having decided that only those who can tack 'career' on the front of it deserve to be called 'astronauts')."
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Spaceport America Gets FAA License

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  • Tourists? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @06:39AM (#26143389)

    Well, probably "space tourists" til the first couple of hundred go up and down successfully and the astronauts wings given out go from being solid steel with gold plating down to plastic clip on models made in taiwan in toy factories... then I think the media will just call them "tourists".

    Last time I went to the USA people called me a "tourist" not an "airplane tourist" or a "USA tourist".

  • by PolarBearFire ( 1176791 ) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @06:52AM (#26143443)
    I'm I missing something or does this spaceport not actually connect to anything? Ironically you would be travelling the most distance in your life and end not going anywhere. Anyway, hope this will bring actual space travel to the moon, planets, I would even settle for a station on Earth orbit, closer to most people.
  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <> on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @07:04AM (#26143489) Homepage

    Ironically you would be travelling the most distance in your life and end not going anywhere.

    Wasn't it Robert Heinlein who said that once you're in orbit, you're halfway to anywhere? In any event, getting into orbit makes it faster to reach any other point on Earth than with traditional jet aircraft. In his 1996 novel Firestar [] , the first volume of a future history on the development of private space travel, Michael Flynn foresaw FedEx being one of the first patrons of spaceports, so that it could deliver urgent parcels faster. That was always an unreasonable expectation, and with the economic downturn it's even less likely, but perhaps other needs for getting into orbit to get elsewhere will arise.

  • by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @11:43AM (#26145843) Journal

    I don't know. I went to school in Las Cruces (NMSU) and Dona Ana county is pretty damn poor other than those associated with either the Uni or White Sands. At the time (~1994) they were just starting to talk about a space port. For them to be willing to take a chance on something like this through a self imposed sales tax increase is commendable. The at least partial funding from the local tax base will keep local oversight fairly high. Granted it is construction so by default its corrupt, but I've seen how the areas has transformed since the early 90s and its impressive. I think it has been money very well spent and as long as it totally doesn't fall through will be a huge boom economically for the area. They've probably doubled the number of Sonics and Weinerschniztles(sp?) in town since I was there and anyone can a test to that being the true measure for economic strength for a town in the southwest.

    The local tax district isn't supposed to carry the place, it's just supposed to show willingness of the locals, and later when there's significant tourist travel, THEN they'll be able to contribute more. For now it was enough to get it started so NM would fund the majority of the construction. It's a speculative investment by the state, which hopes to see returns if things work out.

  • Re:Yes, astronauts (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RalphTheWonderLlama ( 927434 ) on Wednesday December 17, 2008 @01:09PM (#26147411) Homepage

    So we should change the definition because that one is stupid. In my opinion, the name of the career is astronaut and even ones that don't get into space should be called that. There can be another name for people that go X miles high... or there doesn't have to be a name at all. They are just the people that have been X miles high, or "in space".

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker