By Christine Anderson
New Mexico Spaceport
FROM THE DIRECTOR
We hosted our first FAA licensed vehicle launch on Oct. 6. We also participated in the International Symposium for Personal & Commercial Spaceflight. Congratulations to Dr. Pat Hynes for another great Symposium this year. We also had the pleasure of taking Senators Bingaman and Udall on a tour of the spaceport.
We hope these newsletters are helpful in keeping you up to date on spaceport activities. Feel free to send questions or comments to us via our website.
TECHNICAL OPERATIONS UPDATE
Spaceport America hosted its first FAA licensed vehicle launch on Oct. 6., and the 16th vertical launch at the spaceport. The launch was conducted by Armadillo Aerospace. The vehicle was the STIG-B, which is larger and more capable member of their STIG family. The rocket carried research payloads developed by Purdue University students and the German equivalent of NASA. Launch preparations went very smoothly. Shortly after launch, the STIG-B approached its safety limits and the thrust was automatically terminated. As planned, the recovery system was able to bring the vehicle back gently landing near the launch pad.
The next launch at the spaceport will again be Armadillo Aerospace. It will also be an FAA licensed vehicle launch.
A new launch control van in the vertical launch area was delivered. The facility will help us better meet the needs of our vertical launch customers.
The airfield modification contractor, A.S. Horner, is mobilizing at the site. The NMSA Board of Directors also approved award to the construction manager contract to SDV Construction of Albuquerque, who will manage the Phase 2 construction at the spaceport. Also a contract was awarded to AMEC of Albuquerque for Independent Quality Assurance Testing Services of the airfield modification. Both companies are resident businesses in the state of New Mexico.
The punch list for the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building has been completed. Following review by our tenant, the contractor has 30 days to complete the work.
The southern road from Interstate 25 Exit 32 to the spaceport is progressing, but is going more slowly than expected. The verdict is still out on what needs to be done regarding the existing Century Link Right of Way along the road. The ranchers’ requirements are still being evaluated. The mitigation measures for the Camino Real Trail and the 30 archaeological sites are still being discussed with the BLM. Finally, the exact road construction cost will not be fully known until the bids are received by Doña Ana County.
IDEAS, the NMSA visitor experience development contractor, has continued to advance the state of the facilities drawings for the onsite Spaceport Central and the Truth or Consequences Visitor Center, and all floor plans have been finalized. Construction drawings are still on track for completion in December.
Plans are now to release both a visitor experience developer RFP and operator RFP by the end of 2012, which will solicit bids from 1) commercial real estate developers to capitalize, construct, and lease back the designed buildings to NMSA, and from 2) firms or teams of firms that wish to operate/co-operate the business under a license from NMSA. The operator would be responsible for a broad, turn-key scope, including customer service, marketing, merchandising, transportation, and food and beverage, etc. Details will be forthcoming on these critical RFPs, so stay tuned.
The work on guest show content is also progressing, with IDEAS staff having begun soliciting input and feedback on the media treatments from various key project stakeholders within New Mexico. All of the comments, references, and stories collected are being used to inform the development of the actual, final scripts for media pieces to be generated, shot, and/or filmed during 2013. Particularly fruitful have been discussions with members of the Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences tourism communities, as well as the project’s NEPA Section 106 Consulting Parties. NMSA is extremely grateful to all who have contributed to the effort thus far.
Additionally, NMSA took time out over Oct. 26-28, to participate in another successful VG Accredited Space Agent Forum held in various places in New Mexico, including Spaceport America. NMSA and IDEAS briefed the 75-plus specially-trained, international travel agents alongside key officials from the New Mexico Tourism Department regarding the visitor experience journey, again soliciting feedback to improve the final product.
Finally, the Art in Public Places (AIPP) program effort at the spaceport, administered by the Department of Cultural Affairs, has reached the second stage, wherein five finalist artists have been chosen by the selection committee. It is anticipated that the public artwork will in some fashion become integrated into the public visitor experience. Selection of the winning artist is expected by the end of the year.
In October, Spaceport America was host to the top-rated French Television show Inside 50 Minutes. We also hosted www.space.com, New York Magazine, Discovery News and Reuters News Service.