A dedication ceremony was held yesterday at Spaceport America in New Mexico - the world's first commercial space terminal. More than 800 guests attended the event, which included flying displays of Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo vehicles.
The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space, a combined terminal and hangar facility, will support up to two WhiteKnightTwo and five SpaceShipTwo vehicles. The 120,000 square-foot building has been designed by Foster + Partners, working with URS Corporation and New Mexico architects SMPC.
The Gateway will also house all astronaut preparation and celebration facilities, a mission control centre and a friends and family area. Entrance is via a deep channel cut into the landscape and its retaining walls form an exhibition space that documents a history of space exploration alongside the story of the region.
With minimal embodied carbon and few additional energy requirements, the scheme has been designed to achieve LEED Gold accreditation.
The low-lying form is dug into the landscape to exploit the thermal mass, which buffers the building from the extremes of the New Mexico climate as well as catching the westerly winds for ventilation; and maximum use is made of daylight via skylights. Built using local materials and construction techniques, it aims to be both sustainable and sensitive to its surroundings.