Spaceport America runway dedication
On 22 October the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) dedicated the nearly two-mile long “Governor Bill Richardson Spaceway” at Spaceport America, representing significant progress toward launching commercial customers into space from the desert of New Mexico. Governor Bill Richardson, Sir Richard Branson and approximately 30 of more than 380 Virgin Galactic future astronauts attended the event along with guests from around the world and watched a flyover and landing by Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo, in a captive carry with SpaceShipTwo.
The nearly two-mile long runway was officially named the “Governor Bill Richardson Spaceway” at the event, and Governor Richardson joined Sir Richard in placing their handprints in clay as a permanent commemoration of the historic day. NMSA Chairman Ben Woods said the board of the NMSA had met earlier to formally and unanimously approve the name of the spaceway. The 42-inch thick spaceway is designed to support nearly every type of aircraft in the world today. It is made up of 24 inches of prepared sub-grade, followed by four inches of asphalt, and finished with a 14-inch layer of concrete. The spaceway will accommodate returning launch vehicles, fly-back rocket boosters and other space launch and training vehicles.
Spaceport America has been providing commercial launch services since 2006. The stateof- the-art launch facility is under construction near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, and is expected to become fully operational in 2011. Officials at Spaceport America have been working closely with their anchor tenant Virgin Galactic and other leading aerospace firms such as Lockheed Martin, Moog-FTS, Armadillo Aerospace, and UP Aerospace to develop commercial spaceflight at the new facility. The economic impact of launches, tourism and new construction at Spaceport America are already delivering on its promise to the people of New Mexico.