Today we are ready to witness the completion of the first spaceport in the world, named Spaceport America. Situated in New Mexico, this place is a true symbol of the rise of a new age, to which we are all witnesses. Listed below are the vital steps in the history of human kind that led to the construction of the first spaceport destined for commercial use. These dates, events and names are all linked to New Mexico, the place where it all began.
1. 1929 -the Father of Modern Rocketry comes to New Mexico
Robert Hutchings Goddard (1882 – 1945) was an exceptional physicist and inventor who had little support in his life time for his theories regarding spaceflight. Mocked by many, he moved to Roswell, New Mexico, in order to be left alone with his dream and experimental rockets. Two of his patents-for the multi-stage rocket design and for the liquid-fuel rocket design contributed to a large extent to the development of the spaceflight. Too bad he did not have the chance to see his dream coming to reality, because he surely would have deserved it!
2. 1946- Wernher von Braun (1912-1977) launches the V2 rocket
Another dreamer who believed that space flights are possible, and who chose New Mexico for his experiments is Wernher von Braun, rocket scientist and space architect who launched the V2 Rocket in 1946. This was the progenitor of all the current rockets used in American and Russian space programs.
3.1954- Paul Stapp (1910-1999) breaks the land speed record
A pioneer on the effects of acceleration and deceleration forces on humans, Paul Stapp also contributed enormously the development of spaceflight, which brought to the historical construction of the first spaceport in the world. In 1954, he broke the (then)land speed record, while testing a rocket sled.
4. 1957-Joseph Kittinger (1928-) reaches the stratosphere
One of the most important moments in the history of the New Mexico space history was the project Manhigh. This was a balloon flight program which was intended to investigate the effects of cosmic rays on humans and was one of the important steps towards spaceflight and the Spaceport America that is being constructed today.
5. 1961- Ham, the first chimpanzee in space
The little fellow was named after the Holloman Aero Medical Laboratory in Alamogordo was the first chimp to go into the space. Fortunately, the mission was a success and Ham returned home safely and gave the “green light” for the space missions which were to come.
6. 1979 -White Sands Missile Range
The rocket range became a landing site for NASA’s famous Space Shuttle, which was used for space missions 135 times up to 2011. Spaceport America was still merely a vision, by that time. However, the most important steps were already made.
7. 2006- Unveiling of the Spaceport America brand
At the Farnborough International Airshow, the Spaceport America brand is finally made public. The first “purpose-built commercial spaceport” in the world is situated near the Wide Sands Missile Range.
8. 2007- People find out how the Spaceport America is going to look
In 2007, the design concept, created by URS/Foster+Partners is revealed to the world. The entire site could not look more futuristic than shown in the picture. Too bad that most of us will not have the money for such an adventure!
9. 2009- The construction begins
In 2009 the construction of the famous by now Spaceport America begins. The runway of 10,000 foot by 200 foot was completed in October 2010. Starting with December 2010, paid public hardhat tours are available at the construction site.
10. 2010-First landing on the new runway
WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo, two of Vigin Galactic’s spacecrafts land on the runway for the first time. Virgin Galactic is a company which offers paid suborbital flight. However, it is expected that with the construction of the Spaceport America in New Mexico, soon, this company will also offer spaceflights.
source and photo credits: