Galactic ground breaking

Tuesday 23 Jun 2009

Foster + Partners Spaceport launches in the New Mexico

With New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Spaceport America officials andsupporters of commercial space development in attendance, the world's first purpose-builtcommercial spaceport broke ground on Thursday in southern New Mexico giving Lord Foster a reason to smile following a turbulent year so far.

Richardson remarked on the importance of the groundbreaking forthe spaceport. “After all of the hard work to get this project off the ground, it is gratifying to seeSpaceport America finally become a reality.

“New Mexicans have stepped up to the plate by making this investment. This groundbreakingceremony is an important step toward our goal of being at the forefront of a vibrant new,commercial space industry.”

The Spaceport is commissioned by Virgin Galactic, part of the Virgin Group headed by British Entrepreneur Richard Branson, who are investing over $300million in developing a new space launch system to launch at the site after opening. British firm Foster + Partners collaborated with US company URS to create the winning design for the new 110,000-plus sq ft facility. The project will use cost-effective and energy efficient building practices and will be built to the USGBC LEED rating system. 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, it is hoped that Spaceport America will be iconic in terms of visual and environmental design.

The announcement comes a week after rumours that Foster's other iconic project, Russia Tower in Moscow, which was set to be Europe's tallest tower, may be turned into a car park following a failure to raise funding.

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