Spaceport America: Open for business, get your tickets today

Maybe you didn’t know it as the news is saturated with crises after crises attached to political affiliation. The marvelous news of America’s first spaceport in New Mexico has likely been lost to curious eyes. Perhaps you have just watched the movie Interstellar, or have watched a movie about space travel on a home theater system and were wondering why we aren’t doing more in space. Perhaps you just visited the Kennedy Space Center—one of my favorite places on earth and detected accurately that NASA seems to refer to itself in the past tense as opposed to the present. NASA used to be the best and brightest, but they have been defunded and mismanaged by the same federal government that can’t find their way out of a paper bag—so they are no longer what they used to be and you likely felt sorrow for the realization. You probably heard on the news that American astronauts have to pay Russia to journey into space with the same helplessness that travelers to New York City have to call upon the services of an overpriced taxi just to move four blocks in a crowded Manhattan. But you have not heard that in southern New Mexico innovation and space exploration is alive and well—and thriving.

Gateway to Space

Behold the headquarters of the first-ever ‘commercial passenger spaceline’.

Developed by the international design team of URS Corp. and Foster + Partners, the award-winning Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space is the iconic home of Virgin Galactic’s global operations and fleet of motherships and spaceships. Precision-engineered to exacting LEED Gold environmental requirements, the sinuous shape of the building in the landscape captures the drama and mystery of space flight itself, articulating the thrill of space travel for the first commercial space tourists. The Gateway’s many interior spaces, including its massive central super-hangar, astronaut multipurpose training rooms, and the exclusive astronaut lounge, may all be reserved in coordination with Virgin Galactic.

Literally, anybody who can afford a ticket can visit this spaceport and fly into space starting in 2015. It is available to the general public for the first time in human history and is a very exciting development. And it isn’t just Virgin Galactic which will operate at the spaceport, just as one particular airline doesn’t operate at an airport. Just a couple of days prior to this writing a new company has signed up with the spaceport to operate a new variety of space travel with a bit cheaper and more luxurious option. The following is from the Albuquerque Journal in New Mexico about this exciting new flight option from Spaceport of America.

World View Enterprises Inc. of Tucson, Ariz., plans to send customers on balloon flights that climb 20 miles into the stratosphere, allowing passengers to view the earth’s curvature and the dark of space while wining and dining in a luxurious cabin with 360-degree views.

No decisions have been made, but the company is in negotiations with Spaceport executives to launch its balloons from southern New Mexico, starting in late 2016, said Chief Technology Officer Taber MacCallum.

“We hope to have a home base at the Spaceport,” MacCallum told the Journal. “It’s an amazing facility.”

MacCallum and World View CEO Jane Poyntner were key players in the “Stratospheric Explorer” team that helped prepare Google executive Alan Eustice for his record-breaking supersonic skydive over Roswell last Friday. The team, set up by Paragon Space Development Corp., created the balloon technology that carried Eustice to nearly 136,000 feet, as well as the spacesuit Eustice used to safely leap back to Earth.

MacCallum and Poyntner co-founded Paragon and then launched World View as a separate company in 2013

World View has now acquired the balloon and spacesuit technology from Eustice’s jump for incorporation into the balloon flights that will eventually take paying passengers to the Earth’s outer edge.

The company expects to charge $75,000 for seats on a luxury capsule attached to a helium balloon. The capsule, which will carry six passengers and two pilots, will slowly ascend to 100,000 feet and then float in near space before returning to earth. The five-hour trip will include a meal and an open bar in the capsule, equipped with a lavatory and enough room for customers to walk around.

“The balloon will be the size of a football stadium once it’s fully blown up,” said World View Experience Manager Andrew Antonio. “Passengers won’t experience weightlessness, but that’s deliberate. The experience is about the spectacular views they’ll get while enjoying a leisurely flight and not even spill their drinks during takeoff and landing.”

The options being offered at this time from the Spaceport of America so far are just rides into space for the fun of it—for the experience. But with the construction and operation of the spaceport—and the type of people who will be the first to fly into space—new options will become available quickly. The area around that spaceport will soon become flooded with resident housing and commercial supplements to a new classification of human being, the first workers in space who will soon build hotels and launch platforms in space for future travel. At this phase, the Spaceport of America will allow investors into space to see the real-estate available to the ideas their minds create—the many factories, shopping destinations and resort communities that will soon float around the earth in zero gravity. It will not take long for the Spaceport of America to move from a novelty voyage to a daily commute to work as employees will fly up and down daily from that port building the next steps of human endeavor. In about the same time it took for the Wright Brothers Kitty Hawk plane to move into a thriving airport like O’Hara in Chicago, space travel will move from a gimmick of leisure to an act of function.

The gateway to it all is the Spaceport of America. It won’t take long for there to be spaceports in Japan, in Indonesia and other places so that voyagers can even use space travel to shave time off their flights around the world. A flight to Japan for instance from New York would be just a few hours instead of an entire day—which can be very valuable if the meeting requires a face to face encounter to fulfill the needs and speed of business. The degree to space travel that will occur will be directly tied to the amount of government intrusion there is into the surrounding culture. Large intrusive governments obviously will not be able to sustain such projects—and concepts, but those that allow entrepreneurial efforts to flourish will explode with opportunities. What is a desert now in southern New Mexico will soon become an oasis of capitalism and opportunity. The Spaceport of America will soon change the way everyone does business and spends their leisure.

You likely didn’t hear about this Spaceport of America because government considers its business of elections and chaotic micromanagement of tax payer resources as a priority—but to the world at large—its not. The true miracle of our age is there in the New Mexico desert growing by the day. In just a few short years it will be a hub of activity for all those scratching at the sky for an opportunity that only space can provide. If you are an older couple who has a few million dollars sitting in your bank account knowing that you likely won’t live long enough to spend it during your life time—what they Hell, get your tickets at the Spaceport of America for a memorable 50th anniversary in space from the luxury of a balloon cabin. Why not, the government will just steal all your money if you leave it to your children. Spend it on yourself and have some fun starting with the Spaceport of America and start a new club of romance called the “20-mile club.” The ticket office is now open so book your trip today!

Rich Hoffman

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