Spaceport America is set to become the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport. The £133m project is the result of almost two decades of effort to increase the commercial accessibility of spaceflight.
The project has provided jobs for almost 800 construction workers, whilst the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) expects approximately 2,000 long-term jobs to created. It will also generate important tourism businesses for the area, such as hotels, restaurants and tour guide arrangements.
Spaceport America is owned and operated by the State of New Mexico in the United States. The spaceport is located on 18,000 acres of state-owned land, just west of the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range (WSMR). The spaceport will contract services from WSMR and will utilise the range’s unique restricted airbase in order to create a new way to travel into space.
The newly constructed three-storey, 110,152 sq ft Terminal Hanger facility was named the ‘Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space’ in October 2011. This iconic building was designed by Foster + Partners and URS.
The western zone of the facility houses support and administrative facilities for Virgin Galactic and the NMSA, whilst the central zone is the heart of the facility and contains the double-height hangar to store up to two White-Knight-Two motherships and five SpaceshipTwo spacecrafts. The eastern zone contains the principal operational training area, departure lounge, spacesuit dressing rooms and celebration areas. The restaurant and mission control room have direct east views across the apron, runway and landscape beyond.
The Terminal Hangar Facility was designed to meet LEED Gold standard, so the development comprises several sustainable features such as earth tubes under the earth berm to cool the building, underfloor radiant cooling and heating and natural ventilation in mid season.
Phase One of Spaceport America construction is 95% complete. The spaceport is on schedule to be completed on its Phase One construction at the end of 2011.
Phase One construction is made up of the spaceport’s large runway, which is completed, the Terminal Hangar Facility that Virgin Galactic will use, the internal roads, fencing, electrical system, water/sewer systems, and the dome-looking Space Operations Center.
Phase Two construction is made up of the final build out of the permanent Vertical Launch Complex facilities, the visitor/welcome centres, and a visitor centre on the main spaceport campus. The southern road to the spaceport is also part of Phase Two, which is projected to be complete in 2013. At that time, the spaceport becomes fully operational.
Both Phase One and Phase Two construction are part of the already-funded State of New Mexico’s original $209 million spaceport construction budget.
Officials at Spaceport America have been working closely with entrepreneurial space leaders like UP Aerospace, Virgin Galactic, and Armadillo Aerospace, as well as established aerospace firms like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and MOOG-FTS to develop commercial spaceflight at the new facility. The economic impact of launches, tourism and new construction at Spaceport America are already delivering on the promise of economic development to the people of New Mexico.
McDade-Woodcock Inc has been an Industrial based electrical contractor for 32 years, specialising in high-tech electrical products and solutions, including industrial construction and water and waste water treatment.
McDade-Woodcock Inc provided electrical work on the Spaceport America project, based in New Mexico, including site and electrical communication and electrical work in the airfield and fuel storage facility. This also included electrical work for the site’s fencing and gates, the wastewater treatment plant and its water booster pump station.
President and CEO of McDade-Woodcock Inc, Rob Rives said: “We’re the premier industry leading electrical contractor in the South-West, we have the financial capacity and bonding ability to tackle almost any size project and we have a long established reputation of quality.”
He added: “For McDade-Woodcock and for me personally, we always wanted to get involved with NASA and space endeavours and this was a pioneering one as it’s the first one!”
McDade-Woodcock Inc installed runway guidance signage and wind cones, a 2.5 mile communication and airfield ductbank and over 10 miles of 25kv ductbanks. It also installed SCADA communications (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), a system used to remotely monitor the infrastructure of a network, as well as 1.5 miles of fibre optic cabling, 36 miles of 25kv power cable, 25kv power electrical system distribution equipment and back up generation equipment.
The company also used a number of innovative items on the project including the use of environmentally friendly lead free 25kv power cables from Southwire and all of its site lighting made use of solar energy.