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Foster's Spaceport plans finally take off

Norman Foster's dream of building the world's first commercial Spaceport finally looks to have come true.

Foster, who teamed up with Seattle-based practice URS on the victorious competition bid, saw off big-hitters Gensler and HKS to land the project to mastermind a new terminal for Richard Branson's pioneering space tourism company Virgin Galactic.

Billed as a 'five-star destination experience to accommodate customers, their families, and space enthusiasts', the 9,000m2 facility will be built in New Mexico close to the Roswell airforce base - the site of an alleged UFO crash.

Contest organisers The New Mexico Spaceport Authority had originally expected to unveil the winner at a press conference last Friday (27 July). However, an announcement was postponed following the fatal explosion of a prototype rocket at the Spaceport's test base in California the day before (26 July) ( Rocket test pad explosion leaves Foster hanging in the balance over Spaceport designs ).

Speaking about the victory Foster said: 'We are absolutely thrilled to be part of the dynamic team chosen to design the world's first space terminal.

'This technically complex building will not only provide a dramatic experience for the astronauts and visitors, but will set an ecologically-sound model for future Spaceport facilities.'

Back in April the AJ revealed that Foster & Partners had already worked on an early concept design for the Spaceport, but had been forced to re-enter its scheme as part of an international contest launched because of state procurement rules (AJ 19.04.07).

The first images of the new facility will be revealed later this month.

by Richard Waite

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