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Before any space endeavor can be successful, there must first be a foundation on which to build a space program. This foundation is really the hub of space operations. Fuel needs to be stored and transferred safely, personnel need to be trained on spacecraft ground-handling techniques, a reinforced concrete runway is needed to handle the heavy loads of fully fueled spacecraft, etc.

Certain additions will also have to be made to the space complex as well, such as a payload integration facility, a facility for support aircraft, etc. Therefore, there must be land available around the area to build.

Located north of Las Cruces, NM, Spaceport America is ideally suited for launching spacecraft. It is near a small city, but far enough away in case anything decides to blow up. It has enough space around it to accomodate the buildings we will need to erect. It even has more VFR days than a lot of other places. Everything needed is there to get the whole operation started.

Once everything is completed, and we have several years of launch experience, the Spaceport will become as routine as any major airport.

Eventually, this place will become the gateway to the planets and the stars.

Continued below the hyperspace jump...

Before the Spaceport can reach its full potential, a few ideas need to be considered. The following is a list of additions that could be made to Spaceport America so that it can become the premiere place to launch spacecraft.

Existing Facilities
Facilities that currently exist and that can be used with little or no modification.

  • 3.66 km (12,000 ft) Runway: The reinforced concrete runway is 42 inches deep and capable of handling a fully fueled 747.
  • Air Traffic Control: A standard air traffic control tower. Used for ground traffic and for approach and departure control.
  • Mission Control Center: This is patterned after the old mission control center used by NASA.
::

Payload Integration Facility
This facility is equivalent to the Vehicle Assembly Building that NASA used to have.

  • Payload Assembly and Testing: The shuttle payload is assembled, tested, and prepared to be loaded aboard the shuttle. A "clean room" will be provided, along with test equipment, etc.
  • Payload/Spacecraft Integration: The assembled payload is loaded into the shuttle. An overhead mobile crane will lift the assembled payload and position it over the shuttle's cargo bay. The crane then lowers the payload into the cargo bay where it is secured for spaceflight.
::

Shuttle Maintenance Facility
We need a place to keep the spacecraft safe.

  • Spacecraft Hangers: Storage and maintenance area for the shuttles.
  • Maintenance Tools: The specific spacecraft tools necessary to maintain and repair the shuttle fleet.
  • Maintenance Equipment: The specific equipment necessary to maintain and repair the shuttle fleet.
  • Shuttle Parts: The parts necessary to maintain and repair the shuttle fleet.
::

Astronaut Training Facility
All flyers know that training is the only constant in the profession.

  • Flight Simulators: The shuttle and other spacecraft simulators are used to train astronauts in as realistic an environment as possible.
  • Classrooms: Astronaut crews receive their continuous professional development training.
  • Ready Rooms: Astronauts prepare for their missions (similar to Ready Rooms aboard aircraft carriers). Preflights and post-flights occur in these rooms, along with weather briefings, payload information, etc.
::

Astronaut Food Preparation Facility
Food should be extremely easy for the astronauts to prepare in space, even if it is more of a hassle to prepare on earth. As everyone already knows, morale increase as the quality of food increases.

  • Great chefs create quality (read: nutritious) meals.
  • Meals are flash frozen (or some better way to preserve the meals. Food scientists will determine the best way to do this).
  • Meals are delivered to space.
  • Meals are reheated (Microwaved? Warm water? Conventional oven? Food scientists to the rescue again!). I envision the same type of system as shown in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, where we see Commander Bowman taking out several heated food items and placing them onto a serving tray.
::

Support Aircraft
If a shuttle is forced to land at another airport, or a Search and Rescue (SAR) mission needs to take place, we have the aircraft for it.

  • (1) C-17 Globemaster III: Used to transport fuel to a shuttle that has landed at another airport. The cargo will include a portable Liquid Hydrogen refueling tank along with the infrastructure that connects the fuel tank to the spacecraft, and a standard airport ground vehicle. The shuttle is refueled and then self-ferries back to the Spaceport. If passengers were onboard the shuttle, they would be flown in the passenger section of the C-17 back to the Spaceport.
  • (3) H-3C Sea Kings: Used for SAR operations in the event of a shuttle crash landing, or other such incidents.
::

Support Aircraft Facility
We need a place to keep the support aircraft safe.

  • Aircraft Hanger: Storage  and maintenance facility for the support aircraft.
  • Maintenance Tools: The specific aircraft tools necessary to maintain and repair the support aircraft.
  • Maintenance Equipment: The specific equipment necessary to maintain and repair support aircraft.
  • Aircraft Parts: The parts necessary to maintain and repair support aircraft.
::

Propellant Storage Facility
Fuel is what makes everything happen.

  • Liquid Hydrogen: Rocket fuel.
  • Liquid Oxygen: Rocket oxidizer. Also for breathable air.
  • Liquid Helium: Used primarily to push fuel out of fuel tanks.
  • Liquid Nitrogen: Used for sea-level pressure atmosphere.
  • Jet Fuel: Used by the support aircraft.
::

Total costs are difficult to ascertain, however I believe that around $2B USD is a reasonable estimate.

In addition, these suggestions may very well be incomplete; the only way to truly know what is needed is to do a study. Of course, that would take a lot of money.

Another way to truly know what is needed is to actually do it. But, of course, that would take a lot more money.

Cross-posted at NMSTARG.

Originally posted to The NM STAR Group on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 08:03 AM PDT.

Also republished by Astro Kos and SciTech.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 1-)

    Reuse and commonality are the keys to a robust and profitable space program.

    by The NM STAR Group on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 08:03:38 AM PDT

  •  I'm a big space/science enthusiast (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril

    But I have to ask, since we have perfectly good space ports in FL and CA, why do we need another one in NM? The closer you are to the equator, the lower the cost to launch (due to the velocity of earth's rotation at the equator) making Kennedy the logical location. Let the government keep the CA space port for it's secret launch and vehicle programs, and open up FL to more private use.

    The facilties already exist, and I've got to believe that space  (no pun intended) could be secured there for any private ventures, perhaps on a long-term lease.  Just working out of Kennedy seems to be the better, lower-cost option, does it not? Same for training facilities up in Huntsville. - though honestly I always thought that it was a bad idea to put mission control in Houston. I'd like to see it out of the space port. The only reason it was located there was to placate Johnson during the early years of the space race.. forcing the added complexity of handing off of a mission to Texas once the rocket was launched out of FL.

    Am I missing something? Any technical advantage of duplication of effort in NM? I am sure there's an economic advantage for the fine citizens of NM, but there would be a similar boost around Kennedy if a private launch enterprise would be based there.

    On the other hand - just the idea of a space port anywhere is pretty cool.

    "The price of a memory is the memory of the sorrow it brings" Adam Durst/Counting Crows

    by zipn on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 08:46:44 AM PDT

    •  This diary is an advertisement (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SeaTurtle, kyril

      I'm not opposed to ads on DKos. Paid advertising provides the funding that keeps the site going. I'm not even opposed to ads presented as DKos diaries. Candidates and campaigns do it all the time. But they generally have the decency to include a "full disclosure" statement indicating the diary is being posted by someone who has a stake in the game.

      Here, not so much. Thus, this diary is spam, posted by the group that has a financial stake in promoting this business venture.

      But no matter. They probably won't be around for long. I'd guess they aren't a particularly viable business if they are so broke they can only afford faked-out free ads like posting this diary.

      •  This is not an advertisement! This is my own... (2+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        jgnyc, Pete Cortez
        Hidden by:
        SeaTurtle

        ... humble opinion. I do not work for the Spaceport, and I am not affiliated with them in any way!

        I am writing a technical paper on the idea of a commercial space program. I thought I would let the Daily Kos community get a preview of the paper.

        If this post came across as a advertisement, then I must apologize, for that was not my intention.

        I did not know that to talk about something like this is to endorse a product or service.

        Reuse and commonality are the keys to a robust and profitable space program.

        by The NM STAR Group on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 09:05:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ahem, you prevaricate (1+ / 1-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril
          Hidden by:
          Pete Cortez
          humble opinion. I do not work for the Spaceport, and I am not affiliated with them in any way!
          Why, then do you go under their name?  "The NM Star Group"?

          YOU IDENTIFY YOURSELF AS A MEMBER OF THE GROUP AND SAY ON YOUR PERSONAL PAGE:

          OUR MISSION IS TO DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT A ROBUST, COMPREHENSIVE, AND VIABLE SPACE COMMERCIALIZATION PROGRAM THAT UTILIZES REUSE AND COMMONALITY TO ACHIEVE AFFORDABLE AND PROFITABLE SPACEFLIGHT OPERATIONS
          You are wasting our time.  We have important issues to discuss.

          Get your story straight.

          YOU ARE A TROLL.

          Global Flooding, Frying and Wind Destruction = Climate Change! Call it like it is! Our Survival Instinct can and will conquer Greed.

          by SeaTurtle on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 09:32:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Not affiliated in any way? Really? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SeaTurtle

          Your username is "The NM STAR Group", same name as the business in question.

          Your profile statement says "OUR MISSION IS TO DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT A ROBUST, COMPREHENSIVE, AND VIABLE SPACE COMMERCIALIZATION PROGRAM THAT UTILIZES REUSE AND COMMONALITY TO ACHIEVE AFFORDABLE AND PROFITABLE SPACEFLIGHT OPERATIONS"  

          "Our" mission? "Profitable" operations? And this is the same Mission Statement that is on your website. You sure you aren't affiliated with that business? The press releases and other documents on your website seem to indicate otherwise.

          This account was created six weeks ago. Since then you have posted every Sunday, regular like clockwork, always promoting NMSTARG, and always cross-posted on the business's website. On that website the same texts you posted here as diaries are presented as coming from the business.

          Yet you say you are "not affiliated with them in any way". Are you sure about that?

          There is nothing wrong with being affiliated with a for-profit business. But you need to disclose that. My objection is with hiding that fact and pretending to be an objective third party. If you are affiliated with a business the decent and ethical thing to do when posting a diary regarding a business is to disclose your relationship to that business.

      •  this is an advertisement and spam (1+ / 1-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril
        Hidden by:
        Pete Cortez

        you identify yourself as "The NM Star GROUP" ferrcrissakes!

        You list on your Personal Page:

        OUR MISSION IS TO DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT A ROBUST, COMPREHENSIVE, AND VIABLE SPACE COMMERCIALIZATION PROGRAM THAT UTILIZES REUSE AND COMMONALITY TO ACHIEVE AFFORDABLE AND PROFITABLE SPACEFLIGHT OPERATIONS
        What the F does that have to do with the purpose of our site?  

        I don't think it should be on DK as such and therefore, HR'd.  No matter what you say.  This 'advertisement' is put up for the profit and advancement of your product. You keep on mentioning that you need more money!

        Have you noticed we are in deep election mode here?  And you are shilling for bucks for your business?  Give me an effin break!  This diary has UTTERLY nothing to do with the advancement of the purpose of this site: electing more and better Democrats.  

        Busted.

        Why do we need to privatize a spaceport anyway?  What's wrong with NASA?

        Global Flooding, Frying and Wind Destruction = Climate Change! Call it like it is! Our Survival Instinct can and will conquer Greed.

        by SeaTurtle on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 09:28:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  SeaTurtle: I see what you are saying. (0+ / 0-)

          I thought some other george's comment was about a financial stake in Spaceport America. I didn't understand that you were talking about a financial stake in NMSTARG.

          NMSTARG is a technical paper that I hope eventually morphs into a space business. So it does look like both of you are correct.

          I can see why a disclaimer was necessary. I appear to be pimping for money for NMSTARG, even though that was not my intention. I was hoping to get the information out there to an audience of like-minded individuals so that I could improve on the paper (which would then improve the business model. I think I get it). NMSTARG only exists as a website and as in idea; it is not a business, yet. The Group exists currently as a bunch of guys getting together to drink beer and talk about space. So I never made the connection as a business. But I can see now why people would see it that way. So the point is taken.

          I must apologize to the Daily Kos community. I really meant no disrespect. I would like to continue posting, and I would appreciate any suggestions going forward.

          Reuse and commonality are the keys to a robust and profitable space program.

          by The NM STAR Group on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 10:30:56 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Transparency is your friend (0+ / 0-)

            This at minimum: "Full Disclosure: I work for The NM STAR Group, a commercial space flight venture. ww.nmstarg.com" And feel free to expand on that. Perhaps you might post a diary about how you got into this business and what excites you about it.

            But you need to connect the dots. In order to preserve their credibility, real journalists bend over backwards to disclose anything that might possibly be perceived as a conflict of interest. In order to preserve your own credibility, you might consider doing the same.

            In addition, these essays seem to be cross-posted word for word from your business website, and your business website is clearly soliciting for investors. This creates the impression here that all you are doing at DKos is trolling for eyeballs for your business.

            Contributing your knowledge and expertise to the community here is perfectly fine, and welcome. But posting advertising for your business is something else entirely.

        •  Congratulations. (0+ / 0-)

          You've received my second HR ever.  This has to be the most dickish thing I've ever seen someone do on this site.

          To answer your question, this diary has nothing to do with NASA.  NASA is a launch services customer, most frequently of ULA (LM and Boeing).  A bigger question is what the hell problem do you have with expanding the space industry?

          In any case, remove your HR, I'll remove mine, and then we can get about the business of properly schooling you.

          •  Considering you have been on the site (0+ / 0-)

            BARELY THREE MONTHS, since May 6, 2012, you obviously do not have the experience or knowledge on this site to understand about what I was talking... I am supposed to take your HR and comment seriously? Have you even read the FAQ'S?  Have you read the diaries about HR'g?  Have you read all the material that has been going on this site re. Trolls and our most recent Troll/Sockpuppet?  Your comment betrays that you have not and do not know this history of the site.

            If this is your rejoinder to me:

            To answer your question, this diary has nothing to do with NASA.  NASA is a launch services customer, most frequently of ULA (LM and Boeing).  A bigger question is what the hell problem do you have with expanding the space industry?
            Then by the above comment, you have:
            1) not understood/read my comments w/re to the issues I was addressing
            2) not understood what has been going on with this site and Trolls.
            3) not even understood what 'someother george' has said.

            And my friend, to compound things, your ignorance is exceeded only by your arrogance:

            In any case, remove your HR, I'll remove mine, and then we can get about the business of properly schooling you.
            I read through your comment history and not surprisingly, you are treating other Kossacks with the same hostility, abrasion and ignorance.  And they don't accept it either and have told you so.  This is not a place to come and just dump a bad attitude and insult people as often as you have.  We work with civility, facts and respect.

            Go to Redstate with your rageful rants!

            I have nothing more to say to you, because you are not worth anymore of my time.  

            Global: Flooding, Frying and Wind Destruction = Climate Change! Call it like it is! Our Survival Instinct can and will conquer Greed.

            by SeaTurtle on Mon Sep 03, 2012 at 07:04:31 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Nonsense. (0+ / 0-)

              Your only substantive point was addressed. You choose not to address it and instead choose to harp on sme meta crap in a diary about a spaceport project started by a Democratic governor and is in complete concert with the space policy if this Administration. You have chosen not to deal in civility, facts and respect; and in one of the most dickish displays I've seen thus far.

      •  It is not. (0+ / 0-)

        You're mistaking NM Star Group with Spaceport America.

        And considering this diary has been republished to Astro Kos and Sci Tech, you might consider that NM's been vetted well enough.

    •  You raise some very excellent points. (0+ / 0-)

      One of the reasons to move to NM is for the "high ground", so to speak. I believe that the launch sites near the oceans will be completely underwater as the decades go by, prompting a move to another location anyway.

      Also, I have been intentionally vague on the spacecraft to be used at the Spaceport. For example, we will not need the launch towers that the other facilities already have! This will be discussed in the next installment of this series.

      It is indeed a lot harder to launch to LEO from a latitude of 33 degrees than from the equator. Point taken. However, in this case, the difference in payload capability is 16,250 kg vs 14,742 kg, or about 1,508 kg. Significant, but not enough to make a huge difference.

      Thanks for the excellent comment.

      Reuse and commonality are the keys to a robust and profitable space program.

      by The NM STAR Group on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 09:00:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  1500KG, about 3300 pounds (0+ / 0-)

        That would wipe out the Dragon payload capacity. No?

        For Elon thats a huge difference.

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 12:51:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  No need to be intentionally vague. (0+ / 0-)

        You're hoping NM can serve next generation HOTOL reusables.

        I'm actually seeing a difference of around 300 kg between NM and equatorial launches, and 90 kg between NM and Canaveral. My calculations:

        delta M_payload = m0/R - m0/R_eq

        m0 = Falcon 9's initial mass (333,000 kg)

        R = e^((dv- v0)(Isp*10))
        R_eq = e^((dv - v0_eq)
        (Isp*10))

        dv : delta-v = 8000 m/s
        Isp : specific impulse = 255 s

        v0_eq = v_eq - (omega_eq*R_eq*cos(0))
        v0 = v_eq - (omega_eq*R_eq*cos(lat))

        v_eq : equatorial tangential velocity = 465 m/s easterly
        omega_eq : angular velocity = 7.29e-5 rad/s easterly
        R_eq : equatorial radius ~= 6000 m
        lat : latitude in (0 to 32 degrees) (convert to radians).

    •  Where does Elon Musk launch from? (0+ / 0-)

      NM would wipe out some of his Dragon payload capacity.

      Yup

      FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

      by Roger Fox on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 12:46:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Roger Fox: I believe the Dragon launches... (0+ / 0-)

        ... from Kennedy Spaceport, which has a latitude of 28.5 degrees. It also needs to launch into a 58 degree inclined orbit, since that is where the ISS is. That reduced the payload capacity by a lot.

        You said:

        For Elon thats a huge difference.
        I agree.

        Reuse and commonality are the keys to a robust and profitable space program.

        by The NM STAR Group on Sun Sep 02, 2012 at 01:22:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Spaceport America is 3 degrees south of Mojave. (0+ / 0-)

      And 4 degrees north of Canaveral.  In that 7 or so degree spread, we're looking at maybe 50 m/s difference.  

      Anyways, the question's not bad.  Is there enough anticipated launch capacity to justify investing in a new lift facility?  I don't know.  Launches may be infrequent due to a bottleneck.  They may be infrequent due to low demand.  Low demand may be due to lift bottlenecks imposing high costs on launch.

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