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Future Spaceports

Many people don't realize that space tourism is here now. There have already been a handful of astronauts or cosmonauts sent upon Russian Soyuz spacecraft to spend time on the International Space Station (ISS). These flights have cost upwards of $20 million.

Future Spaceport
Future Spaceport

A spaceport in Kazakhstan is used for that mission. The next round of space tourism flights however will not fly that high. They are intended to go into low earth orbit (LEO) about 60 miles high and cost upwards of $90,000. At least a dozen companies are now working diligently on their aircraft so that they can send space tourists into LEO within the next year or two.

This brings to question, of what about the future spaceports that will need to be built to accommodate such an industry? Right now there are about a dozen spaceports either being built or retooled to accommodate larger aircraft and more people.

Right Now

Right now there are spaceports already in action, being built or built up in New Mexico, California, Oklahoma, Virginia, Alaska, Texas, Florida, China, Dubai, Kazakhstan, Russia, Algeria, Kenya, Australia, Japan, French Guiana, India, Israel, Marshall Islands, Iran, Sweden and Singapore.

Some of the older spaceports such as that in Kazakhstan do not have runways since they have been built for vertical takeoffs and landings only. The Baikonur Spaceport in Kazakhstan has been launching tourists into space to the ISS for the past decade.

Spaceport America
Spaceport America
The newer spaceports such as Spaceport America in New Mexico, do have long runways.

This is to accommodate spaceplanes, which takeoff and land on the same runway or airplane / spacecraft dual combinations such as Virgin Galactic is using. The Virgin Galactic WhiteKnightTwo airplane will carry the VSS Enterprise (SpaceShipTwo) spacecraft up to about 60,000 feet before launching it.

Besides launching out of New Mexico, Virgin Galactic will also launch its space tourism vessels out of Spaceport Sweden. Space Adventures, which currently sends passengers to the ISS from Kazakhstan will, in the future, be using the United Arab Emirates Spaceport based in Dubai.

Into the Future

In the near future, more spaceports will continue to pop up in smaller countries across the globe especially those that have less restrictive regulations for space travel. As the space tourism industry develops, spaceplanes will need shorter runways and vertical launch rocket will need smaller areas in which to launch.

Over a relatively short period of time, regular airports will be able to absorb spaceplane travel and tourists won't have to fly off to exotic destinations in order to go into space. Runways that take off over water such on the U. S. East and West coasts will be the first to allow spaceplanes to take off on airport runways since the risk will be minimal to those on the ground.

Spaceport and Wind Farm Combination

Vertical launch facilities will pop up all over the Midwest as some farmers will realize there is money to be made with putting such a facility in their corn or wheat fields. In fact, wind farms and vertical launch spaceports may displace the growing of crops for some farmers especially where land is not as fertile as it used to be.

In the next 5 years, space tourists in LEO will experience only a few minutes of weightlessness. But in the next 10 to 15 years that will be extended to hours of weightlessness. Also, in the next 15 to 20 years the price of space tourism will come down so much that a flight to LEO will be about the same as a vacation to Club Med.

Spaceport Concept
Luxury Spaceport

Future spaceports will also be luxury establishments based upon green technology. The future spaceports will be built with methods and materials that make for a small carbon footprint. Wind energy, solar panels, carbon fiber materials, recyclable materials, zero emission fuels and more will be used at the future spaceports to insure they are not adding to environmental pollution.

Of course, future spaceports will be high tech enabled including Wifi, High def, 3D, in-house space simulators. People will be able to upload their experiences beginning to end via high def video to their favorite social media sites.

Beyond the 30 years in the future mark, spaceports will be shuttling people to space hotels, the Moon and most likely a few will be venturing to Mars by then. In fact there will be so many spacecraft in flight by then a whole, complex traffic control system similar to airplanes and airports right now, will have to be worked out internationally to accommodate all of the traffic.

Your Luggage, in the Lost and Found, on Mars ...

Space debris reports will be common and communicated to the captains and crews of the spacecraft. There will also be much automation where some craft will fly without captain and crew. By this time, spaceports and airports will have become one and it will be up to each traveler where he or she would like to go that day or on a moment's notice.


Written by Kevin Lepton