Spaceport America and the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium created history on May 2, with their first-ever educational rocket launch. Spaceport America, which will become the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, served as the location for the historic SL-3 mission. New Mexico students had the opportunity to design and launch scientific experiments on the SpaceLoft XL rocket provided by participating sponsor UP Aerospace. The rocket included 11 student-designed multi-sensor experiments. Launch conditions and the countdown went flawlessly as planned at 8 a.m. MDT, although the rocket did not reach the predicted altitude, falling short of the 62-mile boundary of space.
Leading the space tourism revolution, Spaceport America's proposed 100,000 square-foot hangar and terminal buildings are being jointly developed between the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) and Virgin Galactic. Groundbreaking is planned for early summer 2009 and the facility is expected to be completed by late 2010.
The terminal and hangar facility are projected to cost about $31 million, and will provide a destination experience for visitors to Spaceport America. It will include Virgin Galactic’s pre-flight and post-flight training facilities and lounges, as well as the maintenance hangar for two White Knight 2 and five Spaceship 2 aircraft. The building will also be home to the NMSA, and provide a destination experience for visitors. Spaceport America has been working with leading aerospace firms such as Virgin Galactic, Lockheed Martin, UP Aerospace, Microgravity Enterprises and Payload Specialties.