New Mexico spaceport design is 'out of this world'
点击量： 时间：2017-05-14 04:01:08
By Anna Davison The world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport will be a “green” building rising out of the desert of New Mexico, US, according to plans made public on Tuesday. The designers of Spaceport America opted for a “low-lying, organic shape” that they say will blend into the surrounding landscape while conveying “the thrill of space travel”. The spaceport will be the headquarters of Virgin Galactic, which will begin test flights of its passenger spaceliner, SpaceShipTwo, in 2008 and aims to be taking paying passengers to the edge of space by 2010. The 9300-square-metre, $31 million facility features a circular terminal topped with an undulating concrete roof and flanked by berms of earth rising out of the desert. Visitors will enter the spaceport through a channel cut in the landscape, walking between retaining walls covered with exhibits on the history of the area and of space exploration. They will be able to look down on spacecraft parked in the hangar and watch them rolling down the runway through the terminal’s expansive windows. “It’s really science fiction becoming reality,” says David Wilson, a spokesperson for the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA). “We think it’ll become a destination people want to come and see even if they’re not one of the passengers to space.” The spaceport was designed to meet the standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Platinum certification, the highest rating from the US Green Building Council. The building will be dug into the ground so it’s protected from the extremes of the desert climate, and it will be fitted with solar panels, a water recycling system and a passive heating and cooling setup. The design is the product of a partnership between global engineering design firm URS Corporation and London architects Foster + Partners, who designed their home city’s Millennium Bridge (see some of their previous work in our blog). The design team is now working with NMSA and Virgin Galactic to finalise the plans, which Virgin Group founder Richard Branson describes as “truly out of this world”. Construction is expected to begin in 2008 if the NMSA gets a site operator’s license for the spaceport from the US Federal Aviation Administration. That will require an environmental impact study but “we don’t expect any problems”, Wilson told New Scientist. If all goes according to plan,