Thursday, February 25, 2010
Spaceport America is the world's first purpose-built commercial space facility. It is in the state of New Mexico and is the site of the next chapter in space transportation.
When completed, all commercial space flights will take off and land there. The New Mexico Spaceport Authority works closely with commercial space flight companies such as Virgin Galactic, Lockheed Martin, Moods FTS, UP Aerospace and Armadillo Aerospace.
The 3048m runway is under construction and is expected to be finished later this year. The terminal hangar is projected to be complete early in 2011.
Dermott Brereton was chuffed to join a hard-hat tour of the site and has put his hand up to be on one of the first flights into space.
The tour highlights New Mexico's history, including its Spanish conquistador connections and its pioneer rocket research. It begins at the Spaceport Gatehouse check point where a huge orange fence displays historical artefacts found during construction. Your guide gives a short talk about their cultural and historical significance.
Hard hats are worn when entering the construction site camps where workers talk about the stage they have reached in the mammoth task. Around 200 workers using heavy machinery can be seen clearing land in preparation for more building.
Then it's on to the terminal hangar and the huge runway. Asphalt has been poured and cement is on its way. You'll even get a look at the cement and asphalt plants to see how it's all made.
Old roads and old engine oil from around New Mexico are being recycled to make the runway and keeping it all environmentally friendly.
Spaceport America will cost New Mexico around $200 million to build, and it's sure to attract worldwide attention.
After you've handed your hard hats back, everyone boards the bus for the trip back to the Sierra Grande Lodge and Spa. There's question and answer time during the drive.
Truth or Consequences, two hours' drive from Albuquerque, New Mexico in the USA.
Spaceport America Eco-chantment three-hour tours cost $65 per person. They operate between 9am and 1pm every day. Snacks and drinks are included. Tours depart from the Sierra Grande Lodge and Spa, 501 McAdoo Street, Truth or Consequences.
V Australia has flights to Los Angeles.
- Melbourne $1604
- Sydney $1623
- Brisbane $1627
- Canberra $1851
- Adelaide $1946
- Darwin $2076
- Perth $2242
The fares are available for a limited time only so visit www.vaustralia.com.au for further details. Connections to Albuquerque are available.
For further information
New Mexico Spaceport Authority
901 E University Avenue, Building 3 Suite C
Las Cruces, NM 88001
Ph: +1 575 373 6110
Fax: +1 575 373 6120
Visas: Most Australians do not need a visa, providing they have a machine-readable passport with at least six months' validity after the departure day, have a round-trip non-refundable ticket and do not intend to stay longer than 90 days. Australians need to complete a pre-travel authorisation at www.cbp.gov/esta.
Electricity: 110V to 115V at 60Hz. Outlets take two parallel, flat prongs. Australian visitors will need a US adapter and converter.
Time zone: New Mexico is GMT -7.
Currency: US dollar.
International dialling code: +1.
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