It’s an exciting time for space fanatics everywhere as construction recently began on the world’s first commercial space launch pad, Spaceport America. Designed by Foster + Partners, the facility is located in southern New Mexico near the White Sands Missile Range and will serve as a launch site for private space travel. Built into the side of a hill, the Spaceport will meet LEED building standards and includes some high-tech green building strategies including a solar roof, excellent use of thermal mass, and a highly efficient HVAC system.

spaceport-america1Virgin Galactic, part of the Virgin Group run by Richard Branson, commissioned the Spaceport from Foster + Partners, and has invested over $300 million to develop the new space launch system. Their plans are to have their first private space launch by 2011. 300 passengers have already signed up for their space flight and paid their $200,000 for the privilege. Additionally, when completed, Spaceport America will serve as the official venue for the X Prize competitions.spaceport-groundbreaking-5

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