A few days ago New Mexico started with the first purpose-built commercial Spaceport, called Spaceport America. The Spaceport will operate like an airport. Virgin Galactic and other companies will use it as a base for their commercial spaceflights.
They claim: “Today’s groundbreaking initiates construction on a cutting-edge, 110,000-plus square footfacility using cost-effective, energy-efficient green building practices. In accordance with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson’s executive order 2006-001 for state buildings, Spaceport America’s terminal hangar facility will be built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system. Extensive use of sustainable and clean energy technology throughout the design will ensure that the spaceport will set the standard for environmentally sound design for similar structures in the future. From earth-tubes that will pre-condition the air to reduce HVAC costs by 50-70% to solar thermal panels on the roof for hot water to the embedded in-floor loop system, Spaceport America is both unique and iconic in terms of visual and environmental design.”
Virgin Galactic is looking into clean fuel and trying to burn as little fuel as possible. The spaceport should be ready in 2010/2011. It will be interesting to see if and how new technology coming from this research can benefit other means of transportation and the use of renewable energy.