KGET TV 17 (November 17, 2010)
" 'This is the Plymouth Rock of the new modern American space movement. This is where it starts,' said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, (R) California.
"In about a year, it will be home to Virgin Galactic's first spaceship factory. A 68,000 square foot hangar at Mojave's Air and Spaceport. Sir Richard Branson's spaceship company will build and test fly three Whiteknight mother ships and five Spaceshiptwo rocket planes here.
"That $250 million endeavour is overshadowed, however, by what happened in New Mexico in mid-October, the unveiling of the runway for 'Spaceport America', the nation's first commercial airport for space tourism. 'But we took the risk and here we are today, landing on the runway, touring the terminal hangar facility and talking about when commercial operations will begin,' said New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson...."
The 'Plymouth Rock' thing may be hyperbole: the spaceship factory isn't; and neither is the work-in-progress at Spaceport America.
I'll skip the standard-issue stuff that's in the news, about these here now newfangled spaceships dee-stroying pretty near all of delicate little Mother Nature's thingummies. You've heard it all before, anyway.
Which reminds the Lemming of the story about these two cavemen. They were looking, suspiciously, at a bunch of less-fearful folk gleefully viewing a campfire. One said to the other, "just wait: someday it'll get out of control and burn down the entire village."
Come to think of it, there was the Great Chicago Fire - - -. Which happened well after the Paleolithic era, and is another topic.
Where was I? Spaceships. Factories, Spaceport America. Right.
The Construction Status page at Spaceport America's website was updated on the 15th. No big whoop there: They've posted a new photo of a construction site.
The prosaic 'look' of some of the photos at Spaceport America's website is, in its own way, a pretty big deal. The Lemming remembers when construction at a commercial spaceport was 'science fiction stuff:' the sort of thing you might expect to see in an old Flash Gordon serial.
Now? Spaceport America is one of about a half-dozen spaceports in this country. And America's space industry isn't the only game in town - by a long shot. (see "Humanity in Space: Looking at the Big Picture" (January 29, 2010))
Back to Virgin Galactic's spaceship factory, the WhiteKnight mother ships SpaceShipTwo suborbital jitneys.
The Lemming's opinion is that space tourism is important: particularly for folks who provide services to those of us with the wherewithal to pay for a short hop into space. That sort of thing is 'way beyond my household's budget: but so are Caribbean cruises and quite a few other high-end leisure activities.
As the Lemming has said, about high-end mansions: it's nice to have folks with that kind of money. They make it possible for the rest of us to enjoy the glitter - at a distance - without the hassle of maintaining that kind of pile.
The Lemming's getting off-topic again. That's been happening a lot lately. Like right now.
According to the Virgin Galactic website, upwards of 340 folks have already booked flights on their spaceships - and the company gives you an opportunity to sign up online.
Even if you're not planning a short trip to space, virgingalactic.com's got some nice eye candy.
- "Bigelow Aerospace, Private Space Station, International Enterprise"
(October 20, 2010)
- "SpaceShipTwo's Quarter-Hour Glide"
(October 11, 2010)
- "Russia Will Have First* Commercial Space Station"
(September 29, 2010)
- "Boeing CST-100 Spaceship: Passenger Service to ISS, Commercial Space Stations"
(July 21, 2010)
- "X-51A Waverider: It's Just the Beginning"
(June 18, 2010)
- "Taxi to the Stars, No: To Earth Orbit, Soon"
(June 5, 2010)
- "America's Seventh Spaceport"
(January 19, 2010)