[ISDC2006] Virgin Galactic Announcement
montoure.pat at ssd.loral.com
Fri Dec 16 12:11:34 EST 2005
Can we get a presentation at the ISDC on this?
Spaceman Sam wrote:
>More evidence that Space Tourism will be the "killer app" for space travel.
>"Virgin Unveils Space Plans for New Mexico- Will begin flights in California, then shift to $225 millionspaceport by 2010"MSNBChttp://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10451149/from/RSS/
>: Virgin Galactic on Tuesday began lifting the veil on its vision to: send tourists on flights from the desert to the black sky of space: — starting out from California's Mojave Desert as early as 2008,: then shifting its base of operations to a $225 million spaceport: near New Mexico's White Sands Missile Range by 2010.
>: During a London news conference, Virgin officials said the company: would lease facilities at New Mexico's Southwest Regional Spaceport: for a 20-year term, with annual payments of $1 million for the: first five years. After that time, the payments would be "scaled to: the success" of the operation, Virgin Galactic spokeswoman Jackie: McQuillan told MSNBC.com.
>: "Without doubt there will be other space tourist businesses using: the New Mexico spaceport," McQuillan said. Several other space: companies — including another British-based rocket firm, Starchaser: Industries — already have announced plans to launch from the future: spaceport at Upham, N.M., 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of Las: Cruces.
>: Work has not yet begun on the 27-square-mile site, but New Mexico: officials have laid out the timeline for the obtaining of a federal: spaceport license during 2006, the start of construction in 2007: and completion in late 2009 or early 2010.
>: New Mexico's financing plan, as well as various designs for the: spaceport, are to be revealed at a Santa Fe news briefing on: Wednesday, with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Virgin Group: chairman Richard Branson in attendance.
>: Virgin says more than 38,000 people from 126 countries already have: registered their interest in buying a ticket, and up to 100: "Founders" have committed to paying the full $200,000 fare upfront: for the first available seats.
>: In a company statement, Virgin Galactic President Will Whitehorn: said several factors made the New Mexico site "an ideal operations: base": steady climate, wide-open airspace, low population density,: high altitude and stunning scenery.
>: "Our team was highly impressed by the professionalism and the: competitive pitch the state and its advisers developed," Whitehorn: said. "We look forward to working together to make the 'Final: Frontier' a reality for tens of thousands of pioneering space: tourists."
>: The schedule calls for Virgin's commercial flights to begin in late: 2008 or early 2009 at the Mojave Airport, which has already won its: federal spaceport license and served as the base for SpaceShipOne's: flights.
>: Mojave Airport manager Stuart Witt told MSNBC.com that he applauded: Richardson's efforts in "achieving critical mass for the state of: New Mexico and making this a state agenda." But Witt also said: Mojave intended to stay in the competition for commercial space: dollars.
>: "Mojave's in this business," he said. "We're not leaving this: business."
>: He pointed out that Mojave was the home base for Scaled Composites: as well as XCOR Aerospace, the only other company to win a federal: launch license for manned suborbital spaceflight.
>: "We must utilize the next three to five years and a 30- to: 50-flight test program to demonstrate the compatibility of: operating airports with suborbital space vehicles, at least the: ones that are licensed to fly at Mojave," he said.
>: Witt said there would be enough room in the space tourism market: for Mojave as well as New Mexico's site and others as well. Among: the other locales being contemplated for passenger spaceflights are: Oklahoma, Florida, Texas and Ontario.
>: During Tuesday's news conference, Virgin Galactic highlighted a: couple of its future customers, including British advertising guru: Trevor Beattie. The Associated Press quoted Beattie as saying he: wasn't concerned about the safety of the launch.
>: "My only concern is that the longer they leave the launch, the more: likely we all are to be hit by a bus," Beattie joked.
>: Virgin Galactic also unveiled a spaceport concept suggested by: French designer Philippe Starck, another paid-up passenger-to-be.: The concept, which called for most of the facilities to be built: underground, was highlighted by New Mexico Economic Development: Secretary Rick Homans. However, Virgin's McQuillan said the concept: was merely one of several possibilities.
>: In conjunction with GBH Design Ltd., Starck contributed a new: "visual identity" for Virgin Galactic as well: a logo incorporating: the iris and pupil of a human eye, with the corporate Virgin script: at the center. "When I look at the logo I am reminded of childlike: awe," Branson said in a written statement. "I believe it represents: all those who will watch and be a part of the growth of this: amazing new commercial aviation sector."
>: McQuillan said she expected that the New Mexico spaceport would be: designed to accommodate orbital trips as well as the suborbital: flights currently planned.
>: "Without doubt they are looking at this as a long, long, long-term: facility that New Mexico will provide," she told MSNBC.com. "Our: plan at Virgin Galactic is that we will start with suborbital, and: then move to orbital."
>"New Mexico lays out its spaceport plan- State, federal and local funding would support $225 millionfacility"MSNBChttp://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10467451/from/RSS/
>: New Mexico's plan to build a $225 million spaceport calls for the: state Legislature to contribute $100 million in new money over the: next three years — the "cornerstone" of an effort that could open: up outer space to thousands of paying customers over the next: decade, Gov. Bill Richardson said Wednesday.
>: The balance would come from state funding already approved, as well: as federal and local funds, said Rick Homans, New Mexico's economic: development secretary. New Mexico's political leaders said the: investment would bring a return in the form of thousands of new: jobs as well as heightened prestige.
>: "What we are calling the second space age will open up a wide range: of commercial opportunities, including point-to-point cargo: delivery, with personal and business travel," Richardson said,: during a Santa Fe news briefing that provided New Mexico's: perspective on the ambitious spaceport plan.
>: The "anchor tenant" of the 27-square-mile facility is to be Virgin: Galactic, which intends to offer suborbital spaceflights starting: in late 2008 or early 2009.
>: Homans said Virgin Galactic would take out a 20-year lease on: facilities at the spaceport. The company would pay $1 million a: year for the first five years, then the payment and user fees would: rise with the aim of paying off the spaceport cost over the: remaining 15 years, Homans said.
>: Virgin Galactic spokeswoman Jackie McQuillan had a slightly: different view, telling MSNBC.com that payments after the first: five years would be "scaled to the success" of spaceflight: operations. Virgin Galactic's president, Will Whitehorn, said: Wednesday that the detailed terms of the lease still had to be: negotiated.
>: Branson took a marathon flight from Australia to be in New Mexico: for Wednesday's briefing.
>: "Of all the projects that I've worked on in my life, of all the: businesses I've started, this is by far the most exciting," he: said. "This business will mark a milestone in world history, and it: will launch a new space industry — a private space industry, driven: by innovators and entrepreneurs and new technologies and bold: thinkers."
>: Many of the details surrounding the plan came out on Tuesday during: a Virgin Galactic briefing in London. However, Wednesday's briefing: in Santa Fe provided new information about the state's financing: plan.
>: As outlined by Richardson and Homans, the key piece of the puzzle: is the $100 million in capital outlays yet to be appropriated by: the state Legislature. During the briefing, House Speaker Ray Lujan: and Senate President Pro Tem Ben Altamirano voiced their support: for the spaceport. "We're excited to be part of the project,": Altamirano said. "It's like a Christmas present to all of New: Mexico."
>: Homans said the project would take advantage of an additional: $35 million already set aside by the Legislature for upgrading: transportation and runways. He said New Mexico's congressional: delegation would seek federal backing as well, because the project: would benefit the nation as well as the state of New Mexico.
>: The spaceport could someday become the base for commercial flights: into orbit, with space hotels and private research facilities as: destinations, he said. "Development of this private industry in New: Mexico will allow NASA and other international government space: agencies to focus their efforts on exploring the further reaches of: space, including manned travel to Mars and beyond," Richardson said.
>: Homans said New Mexico's financing plan also depends on revenue: from a new gross-receipts tax that would have to be enacted by: local governments in southern New Mexico. The local tax could: generate $10 million to $12 million a year, he said.
>: "That piece still has to be worked out, depending on what kind of: support comes from southern New Mexico. ... We've got more work to: do there," Homans said.
>: Virgin Galactic's Whitehorn said the current concept for the New: Mexico spaceport called for building most of the facilities: underground, to preserve the desert landscape as well as to save: water and energy. One artistic rendering showed electricity-: generating solar arrays built in the shape of Virgin Galactic's new: iris-shaped logo.
>: If geological problems ruled out going underground, "this same: design can be highly efficient above ground as well," Whitehorn: said.
>: Alex Tai, Virgin Galactic's director of operations, emphasized that: the concepts were still subject to change. "We have no concrete: ideas, we just know that we want to do something beautiful," he: told reporters.
>: Whitehorn said up to three flights a day would take off from the: New Mexico facility.
>: Virgin says more than 38,000 people from 126 countries already have: registered their interest in buying a ticket, and up to 100: "Founders" have committed to paying the full $200,000 fare upfront: for the first available seats. One of those Founders, actress: Victoria Principal, said during the Santa Fe briefing that her: flight would be "a dream come true."
>: "We're on the era of a new form of transportation and a way of life: that we've never known before," she said, "so I'm very proud and: very thrilled to be a part of this, and I hope to share my space: journey with you."
>: Whitehorn said his company passed over other potential spaceport: sites — including Mojave Airport — in part because of New Mexico's: favorable climate, open airspace and low population density. The: New Mexico site is projected to have weather suitable for launch on: up to 340 days out of the year, Whitehorn said. In contrast,: Mojave's winds and the airspace needs of nearby Edwards Air Force: Base might interfere with Virgin's operations, he said.
>: The fact that few people live around the New Mexico spaceport site: means there will be less risk to the "uninvolved public" — which: should be reassuring to regulators as well as insurance providers,: Whitehorn said.--Samuel ConiglioPhotographer, Writer, Computer ConsultantCell: 310-699-5132Email: sam.coniglio at gmail.comWeb: www.samsphotography.net-------------------------
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