“Takin’ that Ride to Nowhere, We’ll take that Ride”
Why the map? It’s just to show where Spaceport America is relative to everything (or in this case, the nothing) around it. It’s pretty much in the Middle of Nowhere, New Mexico. But two companies we’ve heard much about, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, are working on getting flights to space from the almost penal-colony friendly location. They want to make the middle of nowhere a somewhere–a place worth visiting and not just driving through on the way to El Paso or Albuquerque.
This Toronto Sun article talks about the residents of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico and the possible impact of the commercial activities at Spaceport America. The town, if you have really good eyes, is seen on the map, just northwest of Spaceport America. Close enough to support the spaceport’s activities. Of course the residents of Truth or Consequences have hopes and dreams regarding the spaceport. As do the SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and a few other new space pioneers. The good news for them is that if any of their launches go wrong, there aren’t many people around to be affected. Sure, a few horny toads or scorpions might get singed, but we’ve done worse in the New Mexico desert–remember Trinity?
In the meantime, SpaceX will conduct reusable rocket testing there. And Virgin Galactic will start flying SpaceShip Two out of the port this year, with Sir Richard Branson the first passenger to do so (of course). That plan is only according to what Branson has stated in the Toronto Sun article.
Will Spaceport America be a space tourist destination? Will it be a commercial success? I am unsure. I don’t think anyone ever anticipated the swamps in central Florida as a tourist destination, but lo, Disney made it so. Do any of the new space companies have a “Disneyesque” vision? Maybe. I hope so.
But the Middle of Nowhere is going to need a lot of work for that to happen.