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We have lift off: Foster's spaceport completes

[First look] These are the first pictures of Foster + Partners’ Spaceport America which has officially opened in New Mexico

The 10,219m² scheme or Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic venture is the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport.

Branson said: ‘We’ve never wavered in our commitment to the monumental task of pioneering safe, affordable and clean access to space, or to demonstrate that we mean business at each step along the way.

‘We are here with a group of incredible people who are helping us lead the way in creating one of the most important new industrial sectors of the 21st century.’

More than 450 future astronauts around the world have already signed on to join Virgin Galactic ‘for a voyage into space’.

The architect’s view

Organised into a highly efficient and rational plan, Spaceport has been designed to relate to the dimensions of the spacecraft. There is also a careful balance between accessibility and privacy.

The astronauts’ areas and visitor spaces are fully integrated with the rest of the building, while the more sensitive zones - such as the control room - are visible, but have limited access. Visitors and astronauts enter the building via a deep channel cut into the landscape.

The retaining walls form an exhibition space that documents a history of space exploration alongside the story of the region and its settlers. The strong linear axis of the channel continues into the building on a galleried level to the super hangar - which houses the spacecraft and the simulation room - through to the terminal building.

A glazed facade on to the runway establishes a platform within the terminal building for coveted views out to arriving and departing spacecraft.

Completed spaceport

Completed spaceport

Previous story (AJ 27.10.2010)

Giant leap for Foster’s spaceport

[FIRST LOOK] These are the first pictures of Foster + Partners’ Spaceport America which is currently under construction in New Mexico

The 9,000m2 scheme will become the new home for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic venture, allowing paying customers to go into space.

The two mile-long runway was dedicated to Governor Bill Richardson last week.

Billed as the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport, the facility will open next year.

The ‘sinuously shaped’ will house up to two WhiteKnightTwos and five SpaceShipTwos, in addition to all of Virgin’s astronaut preparation facilities and mission control.

Readers' comments (2)

  • I guess the two-mile long queue for free health-care in New Mexico is also dedicated to the Governor Bill Richardson. No wonder humans prefer to live in Ambleside.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

  • Aaaaah yes, but do the tapering concrete columns draw their inspiration from the contrast between the solidity of the stone and the shape and movement of Kuwait’s traditional dhow sailing boats? It is after all, a space port.

    Answer me that.

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