Spaceport America:On April 4, 2006 workers broke ground on the $225 million, 100,000 square foot spaceport in New Mexico that is to be called Spaceport America. This is the first commercial spaceport in the United States that was actually built from scratch rather than being converted from an airport and is the rumoured future venue for the annual X Prize Cup spaceflight competitions. The first rocket launched from Spaceport America in September, 2006 was unsuccessful; it lost control after launch and crashed. The second voyage was successful in April, 2007. This launch sent a rocket into outer space with a primary payload of cremated human remains. The first companies that will actually be using this revolutionary spaceport for commercial space travel are UP Aerospace, Zero-G Space, Starchaser Industries, and Virgin Galactic. Sir Richard Branson will reportedly make this his primary spaceport for his fleet of Virgin Galactic spacecraft.
United Arab Emirates Spaceport: This planned spaceport will be located in Ras Al-Khaimah which is about an hour drive from the popular tourist destination of Dubai, and should be operational within the next couple of years. The estimated $265 million spaceport will be funded by various parties including the government, and the USA-based space travel company, Space Adventures. A leading Russian aerospace organisation by the name of Myasishchev Design Bureau has designed a spacecraft called the Explorer which will be one of the spacecraft stationed at the UAE Spaceport. The Explorer is based on the design of the Cosmopolis XXI spacecraft, and it will seat a total of 5 passengers.
Mojave Spaceport: The Mojave Spaceport in California was the first spaceport (2004) in the United States to be approved by the Federal Aviation Agency as a spaceport to be used for the horizontal launches of reusable spacecrafts. It was also the location of the famous Ansari X space race where spaceports competed for a $10 million prize to see who could fly a spacecraft a minimum of 62.5 miles into the air at least 2 times within a week. Mojave Spaceport is also one of the locations where billionaire Richard Branson will fly his Virgin Galactic fleet of spaceships. Virgin Galactic is scheduling space flights for next year, and within a couple of years they hope to be flying 1 – 2 flights into space per day. With the support of Virgin Galactic, the Mojave Spaceport will be one the largest and busiest spaceports in the world. As Mojave Spaceport is near Hollywood, and it’s such a wide-open area, a lot of action movies have been filmed here including Die Hard 2, Dragnet, S.W.A.T., and (strangely) Waterworld.
Oklahoma Spaceport:The Oklahoma Spaceport received approval from the FAA in 2006 to begin the initial steps toward their goal of providing space tourism services to the public. This revolutionary spaceport is located on a 2,700 acre site and features one of the longest runways in North America at 13,503ft by 300ft wide. Oklahoma Spaceport even features an on-site golf course, so you can play a quick round while you’re waiting for your flight into space. They’ve teamed-up with Rocketplane/Kistler (RPK) to provide the Oklahoma Spaceport with a full-service space tourism company. Rocketplane is scheduled to begin test flights of their reusable spacecraft called the K1 in late 2008. The K1 is a vertical launch spacecraft that is 121ft in length, 22ft in diameter and weighs in at a hefty 845,000lbm at liftoff. This ship is powered by liquid-propellant engines that are designed to be reused 100 times before needing to be replaced. The K1 is not the only spacecraft that will use Oklahoma Spaceport as a launch site, but it will be one of the first. If all goes well with testing, the Oklahoma Spaceport should be fully operational within the next couple of years.
Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport: MARS was the third spaceport in the United States to be approved by the FAA for commercial space travel. While Virginia isn’t aggressively pursuing a full-service private spaceport used for space tourism, they certainly are interested in converting the MARS into that type of facility. There’s a lot of money to be made in the developing space tourism industry according to Futron Corp, an aerospace consulting firm. They estimate that by 2020, space tourism will generate 13,000 passengers and $700 million in revenue annually. Experts say that MARS will need about $30 million of upgrades to the spaceport in order for it to be properly equipped for the space tourism industry. Many people believe that Wallops Island, Virginia is the ideal location for a commercial spaceport used for space tourism because it’s located right on the Atlantic Ocean shoreline. Spacecraft are launched out over the ocean, which makes it safer for people inland during launches.
Kodiak Launch Complex: This spaceport is located on 3,717 acres of land that is owned by the state. The Kodiak Launch Complex was completed in 2000 at a cost of about $40 million. It’s located at Narrow Cape on Kodiak Island, which has hosted 12 launches since 1998. There haven’t yet been any commercial flights into outer-space from Kodiak Spaceport, but the facility is fully-equipped for such a mission. The Kodiak Launch Complex is an ideal spot to launch commercial spacecraft because it’s in such a wide-open and desolate area.
Baikonur Spaceport: This spaceport, located in Kazakhstan along the Syr Darya river, is the world’s oldest space launch facility and is actually leased by the Russian Space Agency through 2050. Baikonur was where the first ever space tourist was launched into space enroute to the International Space Station (ISS) back in 2001. There have been 4 other space tourists who have been successfully launched into orbit from Baikonur Spaceport, and these individuals have paid as much as $20 million for the opportunity to do so. Currently, this is the place to go if you want to plan a trip into space. Flights can be purchased through Space Adventures, located in Virginia, to climb aboard the Soyez spacecraft for a flight to the ISS. Just make sure you can cover the cost of the ticket for this flight, which can be as much as $30 million. FYI: We’re not the only ones hoping Borat has nothing to do with Baikonur!
Spaceport Sweden: The plan for Spaceport Sweden is that it is to be the primary European spaceport in terms of space tourism, in the future. The inauguration of this spaceport, located in Northern Sweden, took place on January 26, 2007. Spaceport Sweden has already signed an agreement with Virgin Galactic to be the main spaceport to be used by the company outside of the United States. Esrange Spaceport has their first space tourism flights into space scheduled for 2012. They claim that their spaceflights blast straight through the Aurora (the northern lights), which provides a beautiful backdrop on the way up into space.
Spaceport Singapore: This new spaceport is a proposed $115 million facility scheduled to be completed in 2009. The Spaceport Singapore will be a state-of-the-art aeronautical facility which features an education center, a four-day camp for children, astronaut training facility, and much more. The spaceport complex will be spread over 183,000 square feet in East Singapore. Officials estimate that the spaceport will generate about $3 billion in revenue over a 10 year period. There will be a couple of different ways to experience space travel at Spaceport Singapore. They will offer sub-orbital space flights that blast passengers 62 miles above the earth’s surface and last about 90 minutes with 5 minutes of weightlessness – all at a cost of about $102,000. For about $10,000 you can opt for a parabolic flight which doesn’t actually go into space, but you still can experience the feeling of weightlessness.
Corn Ranch Spaceport:The Corn Ranch Spaceport is located on 165,000 acres (66,774 hectares) of desolate land in West Texas, and it’s owned by Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. Jeff’s plan, dubbed Blue Origin, is to make space travel affordable and safe for the public. The first test flights at Corn Ranch Spaceport were conducted in November, 2006 and were a success. The Blue Origin plan involves the use of a spacecraft called the New Shepard which is a vertical take-off, vertical-landing spacecraft. Once testing is complete, Bezos hopes to fly about 1 flight per week in the New Shepard spacecraft starting in 2010.