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Rocket test pad explosion leaves Foster hanging in the balance over Spaceport designs

The unveiling of the winning design in the international contest to design the world's first Spaceport has been indefinitely postponed after a fatal rocket test pad explosion in California last Thursday (26 July).

Norman Foster was among a trio of finalists waiting to hear who had landed the project to build a commercial rocket terminal for Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic company in New Mexico, USA.

Competition organiser the New Mexico Spaceport Authority was hoping to show off the victorious design for an 'iconic' 9,000m2 hangar, flight operations and office building at the site near the university town of Las Cruces at a press conference on Friday.

But the conference was called off following the tragic events last week which killed three people and injured three more at the Mojave Air and Space Port - a separate test centre for the new SpaceShipTwo tourist rocket in California.

However, following the blast at rocket manufacturer Scaled Composites, the future of the whole space tourism project has been thrown into doubt.

Rick Homans, the outgoing executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, said: 'In light of the tragedy at Mojave Air and Space Port, we feel that it is important now to turn our complete attention, prayers and thoughts to the families and friends of the workers who lost their lives.

'Therefore we are postponing [the] press conference until a later date to be announced.'

The other shortlisted design teams are: Dallas-based architectural giants HKS, with Antoine Predock of local New Mexican practice Albuquerque; and global behemoth Gensler, with Albuquerque locals Rohde May Keller McNamara Architecture.

by Richard Waite

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