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Spaceport America Gets FAA License

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the fly-the-friendly-spaces dept.

Businesses 61

DynaSoar writes "Spaceport America received an early and double holiday gift this week: first, the expected (positive) FAA environmental impact report, and second, the hoped-for but not immediately expected 'launch site operator's license.' With this license, and with the previously accomplished creation of a tax district, two of three pieces are in place as required by the New Mexico legislature to receive its funding package. The third, a lease with a space services tenant to use the facility, may come this week also, in the form of a contract with Virgin Galactic. While timing is impossible to predict, the contract is a virtual certainty. The New Mexico Spaceport Authority fully expects it, and so has projected late 2010 for completion of hangar and terminal facilities. Virgin Galactic also seems confident, as they have already screened and submitted their first 100 customers (called the Virgin Galactic Founders) to their contracted medical and training supervisor. They are busy screening their second 100 'spaceflight participants' (NASA and RKA having decided that only those who can tack 'career' on the front of it deserve to be called 'astronauts')."

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huh (0)

blad3runn69 (1022135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143213)

just go to space. Please. so very cool.

Re:huh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26144041)

Send dem higguhs there

Re:huh (2, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144093)

I think that this is ethically questionable and in any case unlikely to be economically feasible for some time.

Re:huh (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 5 years ago | (#26146015)

> first, the expected (positive) FAA environmental impact report, and second,
> the hoped-for but not immediately expected 'launch site operator's license.'
> With this license, and with the previously accomplished creation of a tax
> district, two of three pieces are in place as required by the New Mexico
> legislature to receive its funding package

Actually, they had one and only one piece in-place quite a long time ago. "We're doing this here, and you elected officials are getting the F*** OUT OF THE WAY and letting us do it quickly and for cheap, or we're going to another country and we'll say why, loudly, this cool thing left your lands, and you can face the voters."

If you view things like environmental impact studies and tax regulations as anything other than parasitic memes engendering their reproduction through successful election, well, let's just say there's a hell of a lot more consciousness-raising you need than that deconstructionist crap from the 1960's.

what's next... (1)

blad3runn69 (1022135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143255)

space shuttle pilots will have to be geniunely authenicated before launch?

Re:what's next... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26143303)

As opposed to downloaded off the pirate bay?

Re:what's next... (4, Funny)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143325)

Homeland Genuine Advantage?

Missed Opportunity... (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143273)

...to name it after Robert Heinlein.

Re:Missed Opportunity... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26143449)

...to name it after Robert Heinlein.

who?

Re:Missed Opportunity... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143585)

I am sure RAH [wikipedia.org] never heard of you either.

Re:Missed Opportunity... (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143873)

why heinlein of all people? there are lots and lots of better sf authors.

Re:Missed Opportunity... (1)

Fished (574624) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144587)

Perhaps (although I could argue the point.) But I doubt there are many SF authors who were more consistent in advocating civilian space exploration, and of those who did none were nearly so popular or influential. (Ben Bova, for example, reads like "Gosh I wanna be Heinlein when I grow up" in his novels that touch on this sort of space exploration.)

Re:Missed Opportunity... (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144779)

try "tales of pirx the pilot" sometime. this is imho the most realistic (except of computer technology) discription of private human spaceflight out there.

Re:Missed Opportunity... (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 5 years ago | (#26146039)

...to name it after Robert Heinlein.

I can see it now...

"The Pompous Windbag Commemorative Spaceport"...

What will the media call them? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26143351)

Comercianauts? Touranauts? (damn I hate touranauts...)

Matt

Re:What will the media call them? (5, Funny)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143359)

Hopefully, self-loading freight. The same thing the aviation industry calls passengers.

Re:What will the media call them? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26150441)

Why, those bastards. I'm going to demand a wheelchair next time I fly, just to show em.

Tourists? (2, Interesting)

fantomas (94850) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143389)

Well, probably "space tourists" til the first couple of hundred go up and down successfully and the astronauts wings given out go from being solid steel with gold plating down to plastic clip on models made in taiwan in toy factories... then I think the media will just call them "tourists".

Last time I went to the USA people called me a "tourist" not an "airplane tourist" or a "USA tourist".

Re:Tourists? (1)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143561)

I think I like spacefarers better. Once it becomes commonplace enough, you can drop the term and say "I finally got around to going to the deep black" or some other (more) catchy term without branding people who have been there. We once had the term seafarer but how often do you use it when you go on a cruise?

Spacefarers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26145787)

mod parent up! i like it!

Re:What will the media call them? (1)

BiggerBoat (690886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26146487)

What will the media call them? Comercianauts? Touranauts? (damn I hate touranauts...)

Well, if they want to get technical, it will be Spaceflight Participant. [wikipedia.org] It's a term already established by AST (the space launch license portion of the FAA) to refer to people on board spacecraft who are not part of the crew, but unlike commercial airline passengers, have gone through some training and have given informed consent [faa.gov] (sorry, that's a Word doc).

Re:What will the media call them? (1)

David Gould (4938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26165945)

(NASA and RKA having decided that only those who can tack 'career' on the front of it deserve to be called 'astronauts').

See, this is what happens when we start having the government declare what "The Definition" of a word is. I say, if some people want to go to all the effort and expense of going into space, they should be able to call themselves "Astronauts".

I know the advocates of "Traditional Astronaut-age" are claiming that this would somehow undermine the institution as they know it, but frankly, I just don't get their argument. I mean, nobody's stopping them from going into space their way, and if they privately consider themselves to be the only true Astronauts, well, I guess we can all agree to disagree. Why do we need the goverment to endorse one group's definition over another's?

I don't beleive it! (4, Funny)

retech (1228598) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143387)

Until it gets a duty free shop... it's just a meaningless landing strip.

Re:I don't beleive it! (1)

Jeoh (1393645) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143859)

I wonder when you're gonna have to pay taxes in space.

Re:I don't beleive it! (1)

Timberwolf0122 (872207) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144503)

I too like the little shop but it's not a spaceport till it gets a canteena
"Play that same song again!"

landing strip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26145739)

Until it gets a duty free shop... it's just a meaningless landing strip.

Landing strips can be quite fun.

World's most expensive joyrides. (2, Interesting)

PolarBearFire (1176791) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143443)

I'm I missing something or does this spaceport not actually connect to anything? Ironically you would be travelling the most distance in your life and end not going anywhere. Anyway, hope this will bring actual space travel to the moon, planets, I would even settle for a station on Earth orbit, closer to most people.

Re:World's most expensive joyrides. (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143489)

Ironically you would be travelling the most distance in your life and end not going anywhere.

Wasn't it Robert Heinlein who said that once you're in orbit, you're halfway to anywhere? In any event, getting into orbit makes it faster to reach any other point on Earth than with traditional jet aircraft. In his 1996 novel Firestar [amazon.com] , the first volume of a future history on the development of private space travel, Michael Flynn foresaw FedEx being one of the first patrons of spaceports, so that it could deliver urgent parcels faster. That was always an unreasonable expectation, and with the economic downturn it's even less likely, but perhaps other needs for getting into orbit to get elsewhere will arise.

Re:World's most expensive joyrides. (1)

schwillis (1073082) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143543)

I imagine they will start packaging peoples ashes to be jetisoned into space, im sure that would be popular for a lot of vain people who have grandiose funeral plans.

Plus (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144063)

Who'd go up to check. Just send the bill and say you have, you could charge thousands of people for one container of ashes.

Re:World's most expensive joyrides. (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143569)

I live in Australia and I work for a European software company. We spend a lot of money on business class tickets between our sites.

Long flights are expensive because you have to pay the labour for the crew for more than a day. Sea transport was more expensive than air transport for the same reason.

If a semi-ballistic transport can be made reliable then a lot of money will be saved on time alone. The problem is that going half way around the Earth uses almost as much fuel as going into orbit, so you need a complete shuttle stack to do it.

SpaceX have been making progress with their liquid fueled engines lately. I wonder how you would go connecting the guts of one of their rockets to something more like a spaceplane?

Re:World's most expensive joyrides. (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143901)

If a semi-ballistic transport can be made reliable then a lot of money will be saved on time alone. The problem is that going half way around the Earth uses almost as much fuel as going into orbit, so you need a complete shuttle stack to do it.

The problem with semi-ballistic, or sub-orbital hops, is that you more often than not end up wearing your breakfast - which businessmen do not like to do.

There is scope for intercontinental flights to become faster, but there is also a balance to be met between speed and passenger comfort./p?

Re:World's most expensive joyrides. (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#26145345)

The problem with semi-ballistic, or sub-orbital hops, is that you more often than not end up wearing your breakfast - which businessmen do not like to do.

Ha. Cut a few hours off their Crackberry-free time, and they'll grab some Dramamine and sign right up.

Re:World's most expensive joyrides. (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26147207)

There is scope for intercontinental flights to become faster, but there is also a balance to be met between speed and passenger comfort./p?

Cutting half a day or more off your travel time is worth puking for. You will find customers. Whether there'll be enough of them to cover the costs of the suborbital flight is a different story.

Re:World's most expensive joyrides. (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26147853)

SpaceX have been making progress with their liquid fueled engines lately. I wonder how you would go connecting the guts of one of their rockets to something more like a spaceplane?

Hmmm, they might need to create an intermediate engine. SpaceShipOne had a thrust of around 70k N. The Kestrel does 31k N and the Merlin does over 600k N. For a larger vehicle than SpaceShipOne with more fuel, you're going to need a lot more thrust, but maybe not 600k N worth.

Re:World's most expensive joyrides. (1)

coofercat (719737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26148257)

Didn't one of the courier companies actually state they were interested in this sort of thing? The quote I remember was "give us the parcel by 10am and and we'll deliver it by 5pm the day before" (although I might have got the times wrong, completely misquoted or indeed be talking complete rubbish).

Re:World's most expensive joyrides. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26160375)

I hope I'm wrong, but the financial failure of the Concord (in good times!) demonstrated that there aren't *that* many people who demand that kind of speed over that kind of cost.

If we can't afford SST, I think orbit is right out for any sort of long-term sustainable basis.

Re:World's most expensive joyrides. (2, Insightful)

lordsid (629982) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143657)

You think the first airport had an opposite?

What were they thinking when they built those airplanes with no place to go?

Silly aviators. //They really should have named it after Heinlein.

Re:World's most expensive joyrides. (2, Insightful)

geist3b (1396925) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143935)

If you are born and die in the same room is that pointless? Regardless of the experienced of what happened in between? I guess it might be. (Puts on Allan Rickman voice) Thats so depressing.

Re:World's most expensive joyrides. (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26145699)

I'm I missing something or does this spaceport not actually connect to anything? Ironically you would be travelling the most distance in your life and end not going anywhere. Anyway, hope this will bring actual space travel to the moon, planets, I would even settle for a station on Earth orbit, closer to most people.

You're not wrong. Just like SS1, SS2/Virgin Galactic is strictly an up-and-down same place ride. SS2 is not capable of an orbital trajectory or even significant gliding distance, by design. SS3 is intended to be orbital. Then we'll be going places.

One giant leap at a time.

Re:World's most expensive joyrides. (1)

nutshell42 (557890) | more than 5 years ago | (#26146029)

Ironically you would be travelling the most distance in your life and end not going anywhere.

Perhaps if you're from SE Asia. Space Ship One goes more or less 100km straight up and then straight down. Some people commute more in a day.

Slashdot gets goatse license (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26143473)

No more unlicensed goatse [goatse.fr] .

I don't get it... 10% overrun limit? (1)

geomobile (1312099) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143603)

From TFA:

The Federal Aviation Administration will issue a final decision on an environmental impact statement for the $200 million project and issue a license for the site.

...I understand this to mean that Spaceport America/Virgin submitted their application to the FAA based on a cost estimation of 200 mio $...

The third condition was that the project not exceed $225 million, a condition spaceport officials assure will be met.

So, does this mean as soon as they have 10% cost overrun their license is revoked?
I mean, surely no project ever has 10% cost overrun!
Either this means this is not a hard limit at all or there won't be a spaceport. Or the article is wrong. Or I didn't get it. Please someone explain.

(Also, please be sure to point out that 200-->225 is not a 10% overrun or your geek-license will be revoked.)

Re:I don't get it... 10% overrun limit? (1)

Andr T. (1006215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26143751)

So, does this mean as soon as they have 10% cost overrun their license is revoked?

Man, it took me a while, but I figured it out: it's 12.5%.

(Also, please be sure to point out that 200-->225 is not a 10% overrun or your geek-license will be revoked.)

Done.

"Creation of a tax district" .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26143929)

WTF ... I smell pork.

Also if you have ever travelled in one of Branson's (now justifiably ex-)trains in the UK, you would NOT want to travel Virgin.

Re:"Creation of a tax district" .... (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144875)

I don't know. I went to school in Las Cruces (NMSU) and Dona Ana county is pretty damn poor other than those associated with either the Uni or White Sands. At the time (~1994) they were just starting to talk about a space port. For them to be willing to take a chance on something like this through a self imposed sales tax increase is commendable. The at least partial funding from the local tax base will keep local oversight fairly high. Granted it is construction so by default its corrupt, but I've seen how the areas has transformed since the early 90s and its impressive. I think it has been money very well spent and as long as it totally doesn't fall through will be a huge boom economically for the area. They've probably doubled the number of Sonics and Weinerschniztles(sp?) in town since I was there and anyone can a test to that being the true measure for economic strength for a town in the southwest.

Re:"Creation of a tax district" .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26145451)

Nope, still only the three Sonics and only the two Weinerschniztle (El Paseo and Lohman). But we now have TWO Super Wal-Marts and a Ruby Tuesday's....

Dona Ana county is counting on a lot of people from Cruces working at the Space Port. If most of the workforce comes from other counties it will be an economic burden on this community. It does make sense that a fair amount of money will come into the county from places like New Mexico State University and White Sands Test Facility.

Oh, the Jack-in-the-Box on El Paseo closed too.

Re:"Creation of a tax district" .... (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26145797)

Wow, an extra Walmart. Now that is impressive for a single town. I think the last time I was there they were just breaking ground on the super walmart which was across the street from the original, if my memory serves me. Little more local guage, but the number of Burger Times can be used as an economic measure as well. I think there were 3 when I was there. Used to live off their Egg and Potato buritos.

Re:"Creation of a tax district" .... (2, Interesting)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#26145843)

I don't know. I went to school in Las Cruces (NMSU) and Dona Ana county is pretty damn poor other than those associated with either the Uni or White Sands. At the time (~1994) they were just starting to talk about a space port. For them to be willing to take a chance on something like this through a self imposed sales tax increase is commendable. The at least partial funding from the local tax base will keep local oversight fairly high. Granted it is construction so by default its corrupt, but I've seen how the areas has transformed since the early 90s and its impressive. I think it has been money very well spent and as long as it totally doesn't fall through will be a huge boom economically for the area. They've probably doubled the number of Sonics and Weinerschniztles(sp?) in town since I was there and anyone can a test to that being the true measure for economic strength for a town in the southwest.

The local tax district isn't supposed to carry the place, it's just supposed to show willingness of the locals, and later when there's significant tourist travel, THEN they'll be able to contribute more. For now it was enough to get it started so NM would fund the majority of the construction. It's a speculative investment by the state, which hopes to see returns if things work out.

Re: (0, Redundant)

clint999 (1277046) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144141)

Ironically you would be travelling the most distance in your life and end not going anywhere.

Yes, astronauts (3, Informative)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 5 years ago | (#26144791)

They deserve to be called astronauts, even if that dilutes the brand.

The definition of astronaut is anyone who travels into space. Space is defined as as certain altitude above the earth. According to Wiki [wikipedia.org] :

The criteria for what constitutes human spaceflight vary. The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Sporting Code for astronautics recognizes only flights that exceed an altitude of 100 kilometers (62 mi).[3] However, in the United States, professional, military, and commercial astronauts who travel above an altitude of 80 kilometers (50 mi)[citation needed] are awarded astronaut wings.

There have been cases where, like in the Challenger disaster, they were not technically considered astronauts since they didn't cross the threshhold into space. So far there's been 489 astronauts under the international standard, and 496 by the US standard of 50 miles.

Re:Yes, astronauts (1)

kickdown (824054) | more than 5 years ago | (#26145019)

They deserve to be called astronauts, even if that dilutes the brand.

The definition of astronaut is anyone who travels into space. Space is defined as as certain altitude above the earth.

Ah. So you are one of those spacey-space-tourists who paid a couple of million USD to brag with "I'm an astronaut" to get laid and now you cry because you are being taken away your brag rights. My sympathies.

Re:Yes, astronauts (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 5 years ago | (#26153743)

And you must be one of those people who cheered when Pluto was no longer listed as a planet.

I'm asking for consistency here, not a sudden rewriting of the definitions

Re:Yes, astronauts (1)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 5 years ago | (#26145221)

Similarly, not everyone sailing with a ship called Argo [wikipedia.org] becomes an Argonaut.

Re:Yes, astronauts (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#26145383)

Similarly, not everyone sailing with a ship called Argo becomes an Argonaut.

How about if it's a cargo ship in the wool trade?

Re:Yes, astronauts (2, Interesting)

RalphTheWonderLlama (927434) | more than 5 years ago | (#26147411)

So we should change the definition because that one is stupid. In my opinion, the name of the career is astronaut and even ones that don't get into space should be called that. There can be another name for people that go X miles high... or there doesn't have to be a name at all. They are just the people that have been X miles high, or "in space".

Re:Yes, astronauts (1)

Keychain (1249466) | more than 5 years ago | (#26151463)

It's true, do we call sailor anyone who's been more than X miles away from the coast?

Re:Yes, astronauts (1)

schlick (73861) | more than 5 years ago | (#26150573)

No not astronauts.

I don't know where you got that definition but I think it is wrong.

-naut comes from the Greek word for sailor. Not every one who travels by boat is a sailor. A sailor is crew. An astronaut means crew of a space faring vessel. Passengers are not crew.

fi8St (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26147195)

at least.' Nobody Common knowledge to deliver what, and sold in the DOG THAT IT IS. IT I've never ssen Fact: *BSD IS A get how people can

Obligatory Obi Wan quote... (1)

McFly777 (23881) | more than 5 years ago | (#26149157)

New Mexico spaceport, You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villany.

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