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Spaceport America

The worlds first Spaceport constructed as a spaceport.  This spaceport was completed in 2012 in the Jornada Del Muerto on the high plains of New Mexico.

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In the High Desert we find this Extravaganza A Wonder of Modern Architecture

.....Mind Boggling! .......Unbelievable! ......Fantastic! .......  Futuristic!

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This is not an artists conception of a space craft, or what in ones mind a spaceport might look like.  
This is New Mexico's Spaceport America, concrete, brick and mortar, glass and in the real world.

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The Public was invited to an open house on Saturday, April 2nd, and Dottie and I made the site visit along with 1,700 others. The Open House was well organized and was divided into two reservations time, morning and afternoon. The next public Open House is scheduled for October 1, 2016, and we recommend the adventure.

This is not a Federal project, but owned and operated by the State of New Mexico who provided 2/3rds of the capital for construction and 1/3rd was covered by Sierra and Dona Ana Counties on a prorated share based on population. This is great for we in Sierra County, as we are the poorest County in NM and loosing population. The State is responsible for the operation expenses. We New Mexicans spent $219,000,000.00 in construction cost to open this Avenue to Space.

 

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Our Spaceport was constructed on 28 sections (18,000 acres) of State 0wned Trust Lands. The site borders the White Sands Missile Range, which encompass some 6.000 square miles and is the largest military base in the Continental United States.

You might wonder where in the heck is the Jornado del Muerto? The Jornado del Muerto translated - 'The Valley of Death - is on the 105 mile stretch of the Camino Real (The Kings Highway) which was the Spanish trail from Mexico City to Santa Fe in the 1600's. You still don't know do you? Well, It is about 60 miles due south of the Trinity site, where the first atomic bomb was detonated in 1945; and it is 90 miles north of El Paso,TX

Come and tour this remarkable site.  It took our breath away and maybe yours.   It is amazing what one can build with someone else's money.

Notice the friendly couple's reflection, as they welcome you.

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Yep! That is us sending you our greetings from the high desert. There we are just to the left of the white banner reflection.  Wave back, as this is real friendly country.

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Hanger, hey this 'Ain't no hanger', this is a 'Spaceport Terminal'. It is 96,000 square feet in size, air conditioned and heated, circular construction and clear spans 270 feet, with a center height of 45’. A beauty setting waiting for you to come and experience your venture into space.  The Gateway to Space!

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Virgin Galactic is the anchor tenant of our Spaceport.  Too, it is very obvious that Sir Richard Branson was instrumental in the design of the total project from it’s beginning, from the contemporary Spaceport Terminal to the Horizontal Lift off.  This is his dream come true. Here is our then Governor Bill Richardson and Sir Richard Branson in 2010 celebrating the announcement of Spaceport America.

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Let's go inside, as after all it’s air conditioned. 

This Spaceport complex was constructed by some of New Mexico finest and most experienced Contractors. Jerald Martin Construction was the Project Managing Contractor, David Montoya Construction built the Horizontal Launch, and A. S. Horner completed the runway extension. CMC Construction of T or C rebuilt and paved the access road from Engle south to the Project; and Summit West of San Diego completed the hanger. The quality of the work of all of these professional was superior; and when you visit this marvel, one appreciates the effort, skill and integrity they put into their part of the complex

These curved doors are an amazing piece of design and construction. I marveled at seeing a 'Hanger' with such an elaborate door system. Then I correct myself. This is not a Hanger, but a Spaceport Terminal so the curved doors are a natural. I stepped them off and they are each 12’ in width and appear to be 35’ I height.  Just wait until you see them from the inside.

 

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The cutouts are windows, but notice the batting of insulation it is 4” to 5”  thick.

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I loved the symmetry of this photograph

The design allows for Space Craft to enter on the north, be prepared for the next voyage, and then depart on the south end. I understood the capacity of the Terminal to be five (5) of Virgin Galactic space ships. Anyway, this was the vision in 2010, but now it just sits with an occasional aircraft from Virgin passing through.

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But this tour is about Space Flight, so lets meet a Test Pilot, Dottie Ribble, who is about to venture into Space.  She appears a little worried, and I’m not sure if is about the coming Mission or Sir Richard Branson

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Allen, with the Spaceport America is making a presentation about the mission, and its specifics and operation.  I had to adjust the contrast of the photo up a great deal to bring out the video picture of an aerial view of the Spaceport Terminal, but I though you would enjoy it. Talk about a futuristic scene, and this isn't’ science fiction; this is real concrete in the flesh.  I just hope the ‘Terminal’ doesn’t lift off.

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Let me tell you about one of the Spaceport Partners, who is about to move their operation from las Cruces to the Spaceport.  ARCA Corporation. This company was founded by a young engineer from Romania. Dumitru Popescu  Now please pay attention to his hair style.

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The are manufacturing a ‘Hover Board’ that is battery operated.  It operates with 270 hp, and can fly up to 600 ft elevation at 20 mph.

Now identify the Pilot and the clue is the Hair Style.  Yep none other that  Dumitru.   They have identified both a Military and a Civilian demand for their product.  Personal opinion, but at 600 feet up in the air, I think I’d rather have a seat. 

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This is a picture of Governor Bill Richardson, when we tax payers were feeding him, and on the right his photo when he is buying his own meals.

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Governor Bill Richardson 

Ambassador to UN,
Secretary of Defense
NM US Congressman
Governor of NM
2008 Richardson for the Presidency
Dropped out of the race and supported Obama
Was slated to be nominated as the Secretary of Commerce, but was dropped when it appeared he would be investigated for some dealings in New Mexico
Only Political figure to make personal missions to Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong of North Korea

Now lives in California and is a force in California building a Spaceport, and again I understand associated with Sir Richard Branson.

(I am and have been critical of him as a Congressman and our Governor, but I also believe that he was the most experienced and most qualified candidate in the 2008 Presidential Election. His War Chest was only 34 million, and that was peanuts compared to that of the victorious candidate. Oh! and it is Politically acceptable for one Democrat to criticize another Democrat.)

Governor Bill Richardson our Leader whom we thank for this Boondoggle -
'Spaceport America.'

To my friends in California, you better keep an eye on this Guy!

We Citizens of New Mexico have the 220 million dollar extravaganza in the middle of the Jornada del Muerto. No major infrastructure to access this monstrosity. If you travel from T or C, you have a 24 miles of winding "Farm to Market" road to arrive at the Spaceport. From the Spaceport to Las Cruces, it is 22 miles of gravel road to reach I-25 and then 30 miles on the Interstate highway to Las Cruces.

We have a 12,000' Horizontal Launch Pad, what we pilots use to call a runway, but for space is a Horizontal Launch. We also have a Vertical Launch Area and do and have had a few flights from that faculty. The Spaceport authority says the operations loss is about $500,000 a year, but the truth from inside is that this deficit is closer to $1,000,000 a year. And remember this is a Government installation, so there is no accounting for depreciation. What about Insurance? We don't need it, as the State has the deep pockets. What about land rental as the State Land Trust supports our public school system? If this were your business, then you would immediately add some $7,000,000 a year to your cost for depreciation, plus insurance and plus land rental.

The Horizontal Launch was first constructed by David Montoya Construction Co and was 10,000 feet in length. Virgin Galactic then said they couldn't operate with less than 12,000 feet of launch at the 4,600' elevation. When asked, why in the world would we built a 10,000' strip when it required a 12,000'? The reply was 'Politically' they didn't think they could get approval for the project if it included this additional cost for a 12,000' Horizontal Launch. . We taxpayers then hired A.S. Horner to come in and complete the next 2,000 feet.

Look at this sketch of how the heating tubes work to heat and cool the insulated Hanger. WOW!

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Fantastic and Oh! so ultra modern and space efficiency galore. The Virgin Galactic contract calls for a $1,000,000 a year for the rental of the magnificent Terminal. Can't you visualize Sir Richard Branson dreaming of it becoming reality. Marvelous, as long as he ad Richardson were spending our money.

If this were built and operated by entrepreneur and private investors, then it might have been a true success story; but what we have is our State Government playing the entrepreneur. History has proven time and time again, that that doesn't work. The only entrepreneurs in Government are those elected to lead, and they seem to know how to make and accumulate $$$$.

So, to pay the operational cost today, it seems we have nickel and dime games trying to cover the overhead, i.e. movie settings, hover boards, an occasional flight in by Virgin Galactic, and a vertical lift off now and then. We welcome you to our State Boondoggle in the middle of the Jornada del Muerto

You might enjoy visiting these links for different views on our Spaceport:

Gateway to Space: You Tube on the building of Spaceport America - Good

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIpfPR6QB5I&ebc=ANyPxKrX42f-7IAXKQyn_VS7fbFf8zuvN2IZ47JfmhEOizzWtgtbNtPingc0VxVEF0-t8bwynO8m1nB8gYXDMCIf7NQlH39Gyg&nohtml5=False

KQUE News 13 hosted this investigative report by a veteran and well respected news reporter, Larry Barker. Please don't laugh at us, but with us, for our stupidity.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n58eDUYfpW4&ebc=ANyPxKrTNCZLZugkuajBCqkv6RKIRiJg1I7
AzRv10C7bHXWmxqOnjoKqIZhX1jvoI5vnfMVc-aWlegXvK7u7EJvJPwCrjmNemQ&nohtml5=False

And, if you would like to hear the other side of this story listen to Sir Richard Branson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6NcoDWU-h8&nohtml5=False

 

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Lets head to the house. Truth or Consequences, or T or C to we locals, it is the sister city to Elephant Butte where we live. As we journeyed home, we drove by the headquarters of the Armendaris Ranch. The Amendaris is one of three ranches in New Mexico owned by Ted Turner. It lies just to the north of the Spaceport. This ranch is an old Spanish Land Grant dating back 200 years to 1815, and it encompasses some 362,000 acres. It's boundaries are from T or C on the south to the Bosque del Apache Sanctuary on the north, approximately 45 miles, and east to west from the San Andres Mts to just west of I-25. The main production on this ranch is Bison, and 1,200 head of Turners 51,000 Bison's are on the Armendris Ranch.

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As we wander back down the winding road towards home, we come again to Elephant Butte Dam and the Lake. This approach is from the east side of the Lake, and here one gets a completely different view. In the background you see T or C to the left and Elephant Butte to the right. The large black stone mountain is the rock that names the Lake. From a different angle it appears to be an Elephant, and being it is a brute hence the name of N M's oldest lake. Unfortunately, the lake's water level is only at at 25% capacity. yurner ranches

As we wander back down the winding road towards home, we come again to Elephant Butte Dam and the Lake. This approach is from the east side of the Lake, and here one gets a completely different view. In the background you see T or C to the left and Elephant Butte to the right. The large black stone mountain is the rock that names the Lake. From a different angle it appears to be an Elephant, and being it is a brute hence the name of N M's oldest lake. Unfortunately, the lake's water level is only at at 25% capacity.

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Elephant Butte Dam was completed in October of 1916, and this October we will celebrate its 100 Birthday. Interesting to note that This Dam was the first major resorption dam n the United States and also the first dam that its retained water predicated an International Water Right Treaty.. This facility being on the Rio Grande River ist is impacting water shared with Mexico.

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Some years ago when we were active in the contracting business, we resurfaced the road on top of the Dam, rebuilt its drainage system and paved the parking lot around these buildings. The road way was closed to traffic for security reasons after 9/11.

Now you know where we live, just holler and come on by.

Me Casa su Casa.