TECHNICAL OPERATIONS UPDATE
Spaceport America hosted the 18th spaceport launch on January 5 with the Armadillo Aerospace STIG B reusable suborbital research rocket. This was the third FAA licensed vehicle launch at the spaceport. At the request of the customer the event was unannounced. The flight mission was focused on continued testing of the vehicle. The vehicle failed to achieve the planned altitude but much was learned.
We are continuing development of the operational plans that will be used to manage space missions. As the complexity of missions and the level of activity ramp-up, these plans will be necessary to ensure timely mission planning, safe, efficient operations, and effective post-mission analysis. The development process is informed by a variety of information sources, the foremost of which are the experience and needs of existing customers and regulatory requirements. Elements of the plans are already in use.
The 2000 foot runway extension project is well under way. Barring inclement weather delays, the runway should be complete by mid-June. The Spaceport Operations Center Fit-Out design will be completed shortly. We plan to release a Fit-Out RFP sometime in February. The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space punch list items are about 85% complete. The Developers RFP for the development of the Visitor Center in Truth or Consequences and the Spaceport Central complex on the spaceport site should be released in February.
Significant work has continued on the Visitor Experience. Most of the exhibits have been designed, scripts for many of the experiences have been written, and music and voiceover selection is underway.
The design team is entering the procurement, production and fabrication phase. Over the next year, the team will be acquiring equipment, building exhibits, filming on location in New Mexico and developing an expanded online and mobile experience at SpaceportAmerica.com. If you have products or services that you believe can satisfy needs of the visitor experience, NMSA invites you to get in touch with Team IDEAS to register as a supplier.
SPACEPORT AMERICA OCT – DEC 2012 QUARTERLY CREWMEMBER RECOGNITION
Brandon Torres, an employee of Fiore, the Spaceport’s Protective Service support contractor, has been recognized for showing consistent professionalism, maintaining a proactive can-do attitude that reflects positively on Spaceport America, and going beyond the call of duty to assist others.
A Truth or Consequences, NM-native, Brandon Torres graduated from Hot Springs High School and thereafter enlisted in the United States Navy as a Master at Arms (Security Forces). Upon completion of his service in the United States Navy, Torres moved back to T or C. He has worked at Spaceport America for approximately two years and is currently Acting Senior Shift Supervisor for Protective Services. His hobbies include spending quality time with family and friends, as well as hunting, fishing and camping.
If you would like to nominate a non-government crewmember on the Spaceport America team for our quarterly award, see our website. Nominations for the next quarter will be accepted until March 31.
In January, Spaceport America was host to a national FOX NEWS crew doing a story on the growing commercial space industry. The story will feature commercial space companies like Bigelow Aerospace, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, along with Spaceport America. We also hosted representatives from the Associated Press, KVIA NEWS 7/El Paso and the Las Cruces Sun-News on our monthly media tour.
Much of the media attention in January has turned to passing of the critical expanded Space Flight Informed Consent legislation now moving through the legislative process in Santa Fe. NMSA Executive Director Christine Anderson was busy during the month addressing Informed Consent legislation in the media including the Albuquerque television stations (KOB, KOAT and KRQE) and giving interviews to FORBES, the Associated Press and various New Mexico and West Texas media outlets. The FORBES story on Spaceport America can be read here.
Presentations were also given to the Albuquerque Rotary Club and to the First United Church Men’s Group in Albuquerque.
A great deal of national and international exposure for Spaceport America is now starting to be generated by paying customers using the Spaceport for their advertising and promotional efforts. The latest of these commercial advertising efforts, featuring Spaceport America, can be seen on the GMC national website.
PROPOSED EXPANDED SPACE FLIGHT INFORMED CONSENT LEGISLATION 2013
Spaceport America needs new legislation to be successful. The proposed legislation would extend the liability coverage to the space vehicle’s manufacturers and the supply chain. Texas, Florida, Colorado and Virginia already have the legislation that New Mexico needs to remain competitive.
The legislation is doing well so far in the 60 day New Mexico legislative session. The Senate has passed the legislation and it is now headed to the House.
The Spaceport and local jobs are at risk if the bill is not passed because under current New Mexico law, manufacturers and suppliers for human spaceflight could be sued by the space passengers in the event of an accident. The disparity between New Mexico’s current law and its competitor states could drive commercial space companies to locate in other states. The impact is no longer theoretical. Over the past year, several companies have passed on locating in New Mexico, citing liability law as a reason to go somewhere else.
The proposed legislation costs the tax payers nothing and only applies to the space passengers. The proposed law would not change any rights of the uninvolved public — the citizens of New Mexico would keep all their rights that they have today. In addition, prospective space passengers have stated repeatedly that they understand that the commercial space industry is an emerging industry and they are willing to accept the risk of spaceflight and hold harmless operators, manufacturers and suppliers in the event of an accident other than in cases of willful or wanton disregard.
TECHNICAL OPERATIONS UPDATE
The Spaceport Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) was commissioned by the FAA on December 18. Although the system has been functioning for several months, the FAA has now certified it for use in supporting aerospace operations. Current weather conditions for the spaceport can be obtained by calling 575-267-8806.
The spaceport technical staff has also been updating the population density study for various flight corridors. The last study was completed in 2000. The results of this study will provide valuable information regarding the best flight paths for future higher elevation launches from the spaceport.
The 2000 foot runway extension project has begun. The final push to complete the punch list items for the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space facility is underway. Virgin Galactic is slated to begin leasing the facility in mid- January. The fit-out design for the Spaceport Operations Center is almost complete and construction of the fit-out will begin in the spring. Operational Service Level procedures for such things as electric, communications and janitorial services are being developed for functional support of staff and tenants who will soon be residents at the spaceport.
The design phase of the visitor experience is nearing conclusion. Facilities designs are iterating through cost estimation and value engineering processes, and the development of construction packages has begun. Meanwhile NMSA has delayed the release of the RFP for the facilities 3rd-party developer until further package refinements are complete. The hospitality management operator RFP release will follow shortly thereafter.
Heavy script development is ongoing, including everything from welcome greetings to shuttle transport safety videos and kiosk games to 3D films. Every piece of media (audio, video, website, etc.) that a visitor to Spaceport America encounters must be planned and developed down to the second to ensure a consistently high quality experience. The benefit of doing this prior to opening is that it will allow the eventual hospitality manager to focus more on operations, rather than on content.
NMSA’s Christine Anderson appeared on KUPR FM in Alamogordo, NM as a guest of Bob Flotte on his “Local and Live” community radio show discussing progress being made at Spaceport America and the need to pass Expanded Informed Consent Legislation. Christine also appeared on Santa Fe public radio station KSFR FM with Dan Garrity to discuss the importance of passing the legislation in the upcoming 60-day New Mexico Legislative session.
Christine also provided presentations to the Friends of Capitalism in Santa Fe and the International Council of Systems Engineering Albuquerque Section’s Annual Holiday Meeting. She also appeared, along with Mark Butler from Virgin Galactic, on the KRWG Public Broadcasting Service station serving southeastern New Mexico and El Paso, Texas. They discussed the status of the Spaceport, VG Operations and the Informed Consent Legislation.
A major cover story in Wired Magazine’s January 2013 edition features Virgin Galactic and their commercial operations at Spaceport America.
PROPOSED EXPANDED SPACE FLIGHT INFORMED CONSENT LEGISLATION 2013
Spaceport America needs new legislation to be successful. New laws in other states have put the Spaceport at a disadvantage and thus in jeopardy. Recently, a “Save the Spaceport” Coalition has been formed pushing for a new state law to encourage manufacturers and suppliers to locate and bring jobs to New Mexico. Texas, Florida, Colorado and Virginia already have the new legislation that New Mexico needs to remain competitive.
The Spaceport and local jobs are at risk because under current New Mexico law, manufacturers and suppliers for human spaceflight could be sued by the space passengers in the event of an accident. The disparity between New Mexico’s current law and its competitor states could drive commercial space companies to locate in other states. The impact is no longer theoretical. Over the past year, several companies have passed on locating in New Mexico, citing liability law as a reason to go somewhere else.
The proposed legislation costs the tax payers nothing and only applies to the space passengers. The proposed law would not change any rights of the uninvolved public — the citizens of New Mexico would keep all their rights that they have today. In addition, prospective space passengers have stated repeatedly that they understand that the commercial space industry is an emerging industry and they are willing to accept the risk of spaceflight and hold harmless operators, manufacturers and suppliers in the event of an accident other than in cases of gross negligence or mal-intent.
We are pleased that the NM Legislative Finance Committee has already endorsed the bill. Please visit the Save our Spaceport’s website for upcoming dates of Legislative hearings.
CREWMEMBER RECOGNITION PROGRAM
The quarterly deadline to nominate a member of the Spaceport America team for outstanding service and accomplishments during the quarter of Oct 1 – Dec 31, 2012 is January 10, 2013. Note, these awards are meant for Crewmembers other than state employees, for example members of support contractor teams. The inaugural award was given to Cyndee Bourguet of Gerald Martin, the Spaceport’s Phase 1 Construction Management contractor. For nomination forms and information, please see our website. The next award will be announced in our next newsletter.
TECHNICAL OPERATIONS UPDATE
Spaceport America hosted its second FAA licensed launch on November 3. This launch marked the 17th vertical launch from the Spaceport. As with the previous licensed launch, the vehicle was the Armadillo Aerospace STIG-B. The rocket carried research payloads developed by Purdue University and the University of Braunschweig, Germany for the German equivalent of NASA. Lift-off occurred at approximately 10:25AM. The on-board safety system detected an anomalous condition shortly after lift-off and the engine shut down. Their recovery system worked perfectly with the steerable parachute system bringing the vehicle back to a gentle landing near the launch pad. The vehicle currently is being prepared for its next flight which is expected to occur early next year.
Spaceport America has been working with NASA to find a suitable location within the spaceport for a new camera as part of its Cameras for Allsky Meteor Surveillance (CAMS) system. NASA maintains CAMS at locations around the country for the purpose of detecting and tracking meteors. CAMS helps scientists better understand the frequency and distinction of meteors. Information obtained from the network has been used reconstruct trajectories that have been instrumental in recovering meteorites. Recent meteorites represent an unparalleled opportunity to sample material from outside the Earth. The ideal location for a camera is in a very dark sky location that has commercial electrical service and high speed internet connectivity. Locations that satisfy all three requirements are relatively rare.
Spaceport America is a good candidate, and we look forward to working with NASA on this important research program.
The new payload integration building was delivered to the vertical launch area on November 8. The building along with the new launch control building will help us better meet the needs of our vertical launch customers.
The 2000 foot runway extension project is gearing up. The runway contractor, A.S. Horner, has mobilized on site. The Construction Manager for Phase 2, SDV, and the runway independent quality assurance tester, AMEC, has also mobilized. The final punch list for the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space facility was issued to the contractor. Base Building Standard Completion has been achieved. We are looking forward to Virgin Galactic becoming a tenant in mid-January. The rock landscaping on the berms flanking the entrance to the Gateway building is almost complete.
The Visitor Experience building designs are in the final stage of construction drawings to be completed at the end of December. Soil testing and lateral shift studies have been completed for the selected sites for the Truth or Consequences Welcome Center and the on-site Visitors Center, called Spaceport Central.
NMSA has begun discussions with the Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau on plans for pre-opening marketing for the Visitor Experience. In addition, NMSA has opened dialogue with the New Mexico Tourism Department regarding areas of potential collaboration.
Finally, the New Mexico Art in Public Places Program is moving forward with final selection of an artist in mid-December. The chosen artist will then be commissioned to create a custom-design, site specific public artwork to be enjoyed by visitors to Spaceport America.
In 2007 and 2008 Doña Ana County and Sierra County respectively passed a local option Gross Receipts Tax specifically to help pay for Spaceport America. While the majority of the funds are used to pay off the Spaceport Tax Bonds, a portion of the funds is targeted toward public education.
Doña Ana schools in the Las Cruces Public School System, Hatch, and the Gadsden Independent School District have received about $1.9 million in the past year from the Doña Ana County Spaceport America Gross Receipts Tax. A total of $7.03 million has been distributed to the Doña Ana schools since 2009. The money has been used for science, math and aerospace programs. Funds have paid for such learning activities as a robotics competition, summer programs, pre-freshman engineering curricula, and even the hiring of an additional science teacher.
One of the top goals of Spaceport America is to inspire students through space travel and motivate them to focus on science and math studies. We are pleased that the Public School Systems are using these tax funds to motivate our students in such wonderful ways.
Spaceport America was host to a tour by Wired Magazine. The January issue will have a cover story on Virgin Galactic’s program and their commercial operation at the Spaceport.
NMSA Executive Director, Christine Anderson, appeared on the syndicated radio show “News New Mexico” and discussed the spaceport’s construction progress and pending Informed Consent legislation. Anderson also gave interviews to the Associated Press, the Las Cruces Bulletin, the Las Cruces Sun-News, and the Chronicle Journal in Ontario, Canada. Anderson also spoke at the Alamogordo Rotary Club and the United Methodist Men’s Fellowship in Rio Rancho.
In mid-November, Spaceport America hosted a large group of travel writers, invited by the Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau. These writers work for a wide range of national publications and newspapers. Their stories are expected to generate a large amount of interest in making Spaceport America a travel destination.
Proposed Extended Space Flight Informed Consent Legislation 2013
Spaceport America needs new legislation to be successful. New laws in other states have put the Spaceport at a disadvantage and thus in jeopardy. Recently, a “Save Our Spaceport” Coalition has been formed pushing for a new state law to encourage manufacturers and suppliers to locate and bring jobs to New Mexico. Texas, Florida, Colorado and Virginia already have the new legislation that New Mexico needs to remain competitive.
The Spaceport and local jobs are at risk because under current New Mexico law, manufacturers and suppliers for human spaceflight could be sued by the space flight participants in the event of an accident. The disparity between New Mexico’s current law and its competitor states could drive commercial space companies to locate in other states. The impact is no longer theoretical. Over the past year, several companies have passed on locating in New Mexico, citing liability law as a reason to go somewhere else.
The proposed legislation costs the taxpayers nothing and only applies to the space flight participants. The proposed law would not change any rights of the uninvolved public — the citizens of New Mexico would keep all their rights that they have today. In addition, prospective space flight participants have stated repeatedly that they understand that the commercial space industry is an emerging industry and they are willing to accept the risk of spaceflight and hold harmless operators, manufacturers and suppliers in the event of an accident other than in cases of gross negligence or mal-intent.
Coalition members include the Professional Aerospace Contractors Association, Tourism Association of New Mexico, New Mexico Association for Aviation and Aerospace, and the Association for Commerce and Industry. Numerous individuals have also joined the coalition. For more information about the coalition, contact Ali Littman at 505-842-6600.
TECHNICAL OPERATIONS UPDATE
Spaceport America hosted its first FAA licensed vehicle launch on October 6. And the 16th vertical launch at the Spaceport. The launch was conducted by Armadillo Aerospace. The vehicle was the STIG-B, which is larger and more capable member of their STIG family. The rocket carried research payloads developed by Purdue University students and the German equivalent of NASA. Launch preparations went very smoothly. Shortly after launch, the STIG-B approached its safety limits and the thrust was automatically terminated. As planned, the recovery system was able to bring the vehicle back gently landing near the launch pad.
The next launch at the Spaceport will again be Armadillo Aerospace. It will also be an FAA licensed vehicle launch.
A new launch control van in the vertical launch area was delivered. The facility will help us better meet the needs of our vertical launch customers.
The airfield modification contractor, A.S. Horner, is mobilizing at the site. The NMSA Board of Directors also approved award to the Construction Manager contract to SDV Construction of Albuquerque, who will manage the Phase 2 construction at the Spaceport. Also a contract was awarded to AMEC of Albuquerque for Independent Quality Assurance Testing Services of the airfield modification. Both companies are resident businesses in the State of New Mexico.
The punch list for the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space building has been completed. Following review by our tenant, the contractor has 30 days to complete the work.
The southern road from I-25 Exit 32 to the Spaceport is progressing, but is going more slowly than expected. The verdict is still out on what needs to be done regarding the existing Century Link Right of Way along the road. The Ranchers requirements are still being evaluated. The mitigation measures for the Camino Real Trail and the 30 archaeological sites are still being discussed with the BLM. Finally, the exact road construction cost will not be fully known until the bids are received by Doña Ana County.
IDEAS, the NMSA visitor experience development contractor, has continued to advance the state of the facilities drawings for the on -site Spaceport Central and the T or C Visitor Center, and all floor plans have been finalized. Construction drawings are still on track for completion in December.
Plans are now to release both a visitor experience developer RFP and operator RFP by the end of 2012, which will solicit bids from 1) commercial real estate developers to capitalize, construct, and lease back the designed buildings to NMSA, and from 2) firms or teams of firms that wish to operate/co-operate the business under a license from NMSA. The operator would be responsible for a broad, turn-key scope, including customer service, marketing, merchandising, transportation, and food and beverage, etc. Details will be forthcoming on these critical RFPs, so stay tuned.
The work on guest show content is also progressing, with IDEAS staff having begun soliciting input and feedback on the media treatments from various key project stakeholders within New Mexico. All of the comments, references, and stories collected are being used to inform the development of the actual, final scripts for media pieces to be generated, shot, and/or filmed during 2013. Particularly fruitful have been discussions with members of the Las Cruces and T or C tourism communities, as well as the project’s NEPA Section 106 Consulting Parties. NMSA is extremely grateful to all who have contributed to the effort thus far.
Additionally, NMSA took time out over October 26-28 to participate in another successful VG Accredited Space Agent Forum held in various places in New Mexico including Spaceport America. NMSA and IDEAS briefed the 75+ specially-trained, international travel agents alongside key officials from the NM Tourism Department regarding the visitor experience journey, again soliciting feedback to improve the final product.
Finally, the Art in Public Places (AIPP) program effort at spaceport, administered by the Department of Cultural Affairs, has reached the second stage, wherein 5 finalist artists have been chosen by the selection committee. It is anticipated that the public artwork will in some fashion become integrated into the public visitor experience. Selection of the winning artist is expected by the end of the year.
MEDIA / PUBLIC SPEAKING / VISITORS
In October, Spaceport America was host to the top-rated French Television show Inside 50 Minutes. We also hosted SPACE.COM, New York Magazine, Discovery News and Reuters News Service.
TECHNICAL OPERATIONS UPDATE
Spaceport America’s vertical launch customers are continuing preparations for their next launches. Armadillo Aerospace expects to launch their STIG-B vehicle by the end of October, and UP Aerospace expects to launch their next SpaceLoft XL vehicle in November. As mentioned in previous newsletters, both companies are transitioning to launching under Federal Aviation Administration licenses. UP’s vehicles routinely reach space as defined by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (beginning at the Kármán line at an altitude of 100 kilometers or 62 miles). Armadillo’s next vehicle is expected to achieve this altitude for the first time. Armadillo’s last flight from Spaceport America nearly reached 100 km, and easily exceeded 50 mi, at which the US Air Force defines space to begin.
Spaceport America continues to make improvements in the vertical launch area. We expect delivery in early October of a new launch control van, which will better serve the needs of our customers. We are in the process of providing fast internet connectivity in the vertical launch area. This is necessary so that customers can have access to their email and reach-back resources while on site. It also will make it possible for us to stream real-time video from the vertical launch area.
On the Virgin Galactic front, they are entering the most exciting part of the program yet. SpaceShipTwo currently is in the hangar to have final components of its rocket propulsion system installed in preparation for rocket powered flight in the next few months. When the spaceship is next rolled out of the hangar, everything will be in place for a course of systematic flight envelope expansion testing culminating in startup of commercial operations.
The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space was awarded a Certificate of Occupancy on September 28 by the New Mexico Construction Industries Division. This is a significant milestone. The Gateway is a very impressive, complex structure that has been challenging to build. The result is a magnificent iconic structure befitting its unprecedented mission.
The System Integration/Communication project is the last remaining Phase 1 project left to complete. Conduit and wiring are continuing to be pulled throughout the facilities. Fiber has already been pulled throughout the facilities. Mission Consoles are also under development.
The airfield modification contract recommendation was approved by the NMSA Board on September 24. The recommendation was to award to A.S. Horner. The contract value including gross receipts tax is $8,464,063.30. A.S Horner has been doing business in New Mexico for over 80 years. Recent awards include the 2011 American Concrete Institute’s Excellence in Concrete and the 2010 NMDOT Winner for On Time/Medium Project. This project should be complete by July 2013.
NMSA has two Requests for Proposals out for bid. They are posted on the Spaceport America website under “Doing Business”. The two RFPs are the Quality Assurance Testing Services and the Construction Manager. The Quality Assurance contractor will provide independent review of the airfield modification project. The Construction Manager will support Phase 2 construction activities including the airfield modification, the security station construction, the SOC fit-out, and the visitor experience construction. The latter will be viewed from a lessor’s vs. owner’s perspective. In addition, the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs has the Art in Public Places RFP out, soliciting proposals for spaceport artists. NMSA also has two Invitations to Bid (ITBs) out for a mobile “Communication System” and a “New Regenerative Air Runway Sweeper”. These ITBs can be accessed through the General Services Department website.
The southern road from I-25 Exit 32 to the Spaceport is progressing. We are continuing to meet monthly with the BLM District Manager and the Doña Ana County (DAC) Manager regarding the status. The draft Environmental Assessment is being revised based on BLM review comments. Century Link (CL) has a right of way along parts of the road. CL and DAC engineers are staking its current location to determine if it needs to be relocated. DAC has completed the road design and the construction RFP is being prepared. Discussions are continuing with the ranchers who own property along the road.
The design for the Spaceport America’s planned visitor experience facilities has progressed past the Design Development phase toward the construction level drawing completion in December. NMSA staff has participated in multiple design reviews in the last month with the designer, Team IDEAS. Interior creative treatments for the off-site welcome centers and on-site visitor center are in active development and revision.
The Sierra County Welcome Center Site Selection RFP results were briefed to the NMSA Board on September 24. The recommendation to award to Ashbaugh Construction, Inc. was approved by the Board. The site is located close to I-25 exit 79 and has excellent exposure to/from the Interstate.
MEDIA / PUBLIC SPEAKING / VISITORS
September was the second month in a row that put Spaceport America on the national and international media stages with a September 9 feature travel story in the New York Times on Spaceport America, along with a second story on Virgin Galactic. The spaceport was also featured in the September issue of Smithsonian Magazine, and the Associated Press published a story on Spaceport America and the competitive commercial space industry on September 22nd which ended up being carried by broadcast news stations, published in newspapers, magazines and in online news sites around the U.S. and the world.
A story published at the end of August that did not make our September newsletter was a USA Today Travel story called “Along New Mexico’s Space Trail: The Final Frontier.” This story gave great coverage to not only Spaceport America but also many other interesting New Mexico space related travel and tourist destinations.
Other media coverage in the month of September came from state and local media like The Albuquerque Journal, Las Cruces Sun-News and The Las Cruces Bulletin.
We also had an opportunity to provide a presentation at the Alamogordo Forum.
We were privileged to have two special visitors at the Spaceport this month with extremely impressive backgrounds. The first was Pam Melroy, the Technology Advisor to the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation. She served 30 years in the Air Force, was an astronaut and is one of only two women who commanded space shuttle missions. The other visitor, Michael Lopez-Alegria, is the President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, our trade association. He served 28 years in the Navy, and was an astronaut and commander of the Space Station. He also holds the record for the American with the longest consecutive days in space- 215 days- second in the world to a Russian Cosmonaut. He also logged 10 space walks totaling 67 hours and 40 minutes.
TECHNICAL OPERATIONS UPDATE
NMSA was granted a new License Order by the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation. This License Order amends and broadens our existing Launch Site Operator License so that we can host a wider range of suborbital launch vehicles than was possible previously. NMSA applied for this amendment because current vertical launch customers are transitioning their programs from flying under amateur rocket rules to licensed launches. Flying under amateur rules in no way impugns the quality of a launch vehicle or its operator. In fact, several vehicles flown from Spaceport America under amateur rules have reached space with substantial payloads. Because obtaining a launch license is a technically demanding and time consuming process, however, it is a milestone achievement.
Spaceport America is preparing to host its first licensed launch in the next few weeks, as Armadillo Aerospace is preparing to launch a larger and improved version of its STIG series, the STIG B. Also this fall, UP Aerospace expects to launch its first SpaceLoft XL rocket carrying NASA Flight Opportunities Program payloads. SpaceLoft XL launches will also be licensed in the near future. UP has continued to incrementally improve the SpaceLoft XL. The next launch will incorporate de-spin capability in order to achieve a much better microgravity environment.
NMSA and its Space Operations contractor, White Sands Research and Developers, continue to develop and refine the Range Operations Plan. Because of the breadth of operations at Spaceport America, including vertical launches of solid fuel rockets, vertical launches of liquid fuel vehicles, air launches of hybrid fuel vehicles, and supporting aviation and ground operations, this plan must be very broad. First and foremost, it must ensure safety, but it must also provide maximum flexibility
Following receipt of our Certificate of Occupancy for the Spaceport Operations Center (SOC), NMSA has established an initial work presence within the SOC facility, which is complete with internet access and telephone connectivity. The SOC fit-out design continues to progress through implementation of communication consoles. NMSA has provided concurrence with concept design elements.
The pending Phase I construction projects at the Spaceport are the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space (the Gateway) and the System Integration/Communication project. The construction teams continue to address items to achieve Certificate of Occupancy with primary focus on substantial completion elements, fire marshal approvals and facility functional performance commissioning. The system integration/communication project continues to progress with the installation of site wide and facility network systems and equipment. The New Mexico Department of Information Technology (NM DoIT) has completed the install and configuration of the network at the Spaceport.
Site wide commissioning activities continue with the different operational aspects of the Spaceport. The General Services contractor continues to commission the operational aspects of the facilities. Additional activities include the various maintenance requirements, minor janitorial work and continued training on operational aspect of the facilities. The Protective Services contractor continues to provide and improve 24/7 security of the facility, with the recent addition of a security manager and continued development of operational security and safety policies and procedures.
NMSA has two Requests for Proposals out for bid. They are posted on the Spaceport America website under “Doing Business”. The two RFPs are the Runway Extension and the Construction Manager. The NMSA contract award recommendation for the Welcome Center Site Selection in Truth or Consequences is being protested. We are working through that process.
The southern road from I-25 Exit 32 to the Spaceport is progressing on schedule. We are continuing to meet monthly with the BLM District Manager and the Dona Ana County Manager regarding the status. Approximately 30 archeological sites have been identified on the southern road. Accordingly, we are having follow -up meetings with the Spaceport Consulting Parties in September regarding mitigation measures. The Dona Ana County engineers have completed a draft design of the road. The Environmental Survey contractor has completed the survey; the BLM is reviewing it.
The design for the Spaceport America’s planned visitor experience facilities remains in the design development phase, slated for completion at the end of September. NMSA staff has participated in multiple design reviews in the last month with designer Team IDEAS, and interior creative treatments for the off-site welcome centers and on-site visitor center are in active development and revision. Additional progress has been made on pre-opening marketing planning, guest ticketing and screening, website refinements and interactive programming. NMSA continues to explore the sponsorship marketplace and has garnered significant early partnership interest.
In the next couple months, NMSA plans to release several procurements related to the development, construction and lease-back of the visitor facilities, as well as the eventual operation of the entire visitor experience, including hospitality, transportation, food and beverage, and merchandise.
We were invited to present at several legislature interim and full committee meetings this month including the Economic and Rural Development Committee, the NMFA Oversight Committee, the Courts Corrections and Justice Committee and the Natural Resources Committee (the latter two had a joint meeting). We were asked to participate in a panel discussion with several trial attorneys on the Extended Spaceflight Informed Consent legislation that failed to pass last session. This proposed legislation is critical to the success of the Spaceport. We hosted tours at the Spaceport for several of the committees as well.
MEDIA/ PUBLIC SPEAKING
August was a busy month for major media visits to Spaceport America and interviews. The New York Times is planning to do a story on space tourism after visiting the spaceport in August for a tour and an interview. This story is scheduled to come out September 9.
We provided a tour and an interview for NHK Television, a Japanese public television group, focused on the growing space-tourism industry. They will air a 70 minute segment in October. We gave an interview to the New Scientist Magazine in London which will result in an article in late September.
Other important media coverage at the spaceport in August included: Heile Publishing Group from Germany, Virtuoso Life Magazine, the Dallas Morning News, ICON Magazine, MSN.COM Albuquerque Journal, Las Cruces Bulletin, Las Cruces Sun-News, Sierra County Sentinel, and the Associated Press.
We also did the spaceport’s first-ever interview with Gallup, New Mexico, radio station 91.1 FM discussing how the spaceport will benefit New Mexicans and the state’s education system.
We also provided presentations to the Professional Aerospace Contractors Association (PACA) Industry Days Conference in Albuquerque and the New Mexico County Government Council in Ruidoso, and hosted a Spaceport tour for the Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau and a group of travel and tourism journalists.
On July 26, one of our long time valued vertical launch customers, Armadillo Aerospace, received a two year commercial operator’s license from the FAA for their new reusable suborbital rocket. This takes them out of the “amateur” launch category. It is a very significant accomplishment. Armadillo plans to conduct the first flight of the Suborbital Transport with Inertial Guidance (STIG) B rocket, carrying two research payloads, above 100 kilometers from Spaceport America in late August.
At the Farnborough Air Show, our anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic, announced their plan to design a new space vehicle called LauncherOne. It is an orbital vehicle designed to carry small satellites unlike the White Knight 2/Spaceship 2 that will carry commercial passengers to near space. We are excited about this new endeavor and look forward to supporting it from Spaceport America in an appropriate capacity when it flies in 2016.
A significant milestone was achieved on July 19, 2012 with Final Certificate of Occupancy issuance granted by CID for the Spaceport Operations Center (SOC) facility. This allows NMSA to utilize the facility for the intended purpose with initial use as a temporary office space and storage of specialized equipment owned by NMSA. Concurrently, the SOC fit-out contractor is continuing to develop the interior design. The design team has submitted a preliminary concept design, which is currently under review by NMSA staff.
The last two Phase I construction projects to be completed are the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space (the Gateway) terminal/hangar and the System Integration/Communications project. The Gateway continues down the path to achieve Certificate of Occupancy with primary focus on a few critical construction items, fire marshal approvals and facility functional performance commissioning. A significant milestone this month was the performance of the High Expansive Foam test in the hangar, completed on July 9, 2012. The foam fire suppression system impressively outperformed the requirements of code to successfully achieve the approval from the State Fire Marshal. The system integration/communication project continues to progress with NMSA’s installation of the site-wide security systems, interior installation of access control throughout the facilities, wireless access equipment and design and procurement of operational consoles within the facilities. This project is closely coordinated with the New Mexico Department of Information Technology (NM DoIT) which is responsible for acquiring, and installing the exterior network equipment to the Spaceport. The network portion should be completed in late August. The interior communications systems should be completed in October.
SPACEPORT GROUND VEHICLES
NMSA completed the competitive selection for the vendors for two emergency ground vehicles for the Spaceport. A contract was awarded to Frazer, LTD for the purchase of an Ambulance. A contract was also awarded to Siddons Martin Emergency Group for the purchase of a Brush Fire Truck.
The southern road from I-25 Exit 32 to the Spaceport is progressing on schedule. The Environmental Survey contractor is completing the survey and has started delivering portions of the document findings to the BLM for their review and finalization in September. Meanwhile the Dona Ana County Engineers are continuing the development of the drawing specifications in preparation for issuing the road construction Request for Proposals (RFP). To date, the cultural survey on the road has resulted in finding 30 archeological sites.
The Visitor Experience Development project is in full swing in the design development phase. Development of the guest experience show content and the design of the visitor experience buildings continue.
NMSA completed the source selection for the two Welcome Center Sites. First, NMSA is very grateful to those that took the time to submit proposals. Unfortunately, not every proposer can receive an award. The NMSA staff briefed the results of the source selection committee to the NMSA Board on August 1. The Board approved the recommendations. The Welcome Center in Truth or Consequences was awarded to the City of T or C for their proposed parcel located about a half a mile from Interstate 25 exit 75. The cost of the parcel is $151,195. Six proposals were received; two were not located in the city perimeters specified in the RFP. The remaining four were evaluated. The other three were considerably more money and did not offer commensurate value to justify their selection.
The Hatch Welcome Center Site RFP resulted in only one proposal. The NMSA selection committee scored the proposal very low and recommended no award at this time. The proposed site is not pad ready– meaning it does not have all utilities to the parcel. It is not rectangular shaped, more like an “M” shape, and would be difficult to build on. It has minimal access roads to the site and is quite a distance from Interstate 25 with limited to no visibility coming from the south on the Interstate. It was also located in the flood plain. The NMSA Board approved the recommendation of “no award” at this time. NMSA will continue to work with the Village of Hatch to identify an appropriate site.
MEDIA / PUBLIC SPEAKING
In the month of July, NMSA hosted USA TODAY at the spaceport. USA TODAY is publishing a special section on the U.S. space industry for September release that includes a section about Spaceport America.
Centerlines Magazine, an airline-industry trade magazine, conducted an interview for an upcoming feature story on the spaceport. NMSA also conducted an interview with Stuttgart News, a leading German newspaper.
Smithsonian Magazine conducted a second photo shoot at Spaceport America for their upcoming fall issue and will include aerial images of the spaceport with some amazing sunrise photographs.
In July, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority unveiled a new brand that includes a new logo — see our web site. This generated a good deal of coverage in New Mexico and West Texas publications, space industry publications and a number of Associated Press-generated stories.
In mid-June, Spaceport America personnel participated in a three-day Mishap Workshop sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration. The event was held at the Mojave, California Air and Spaceport. The purpose of the workshop was to provide training and preparation for spaceport and vehicle operators to respond to mishap events. Mishaps were defined very broadly to include not only space vehicle accidents, but also on-site traffic accidents, fuel spills, wildfires, industrial accidents etc. The workshop provided insight into mishap response planning, event categorization, response coordination, and FAA and National Transportation Safety Board reporting requirements.Also in June, Spaceport America hosted a visit by Lockheed Martin and the US Air Force personnel pertaining to the Air Force Research Laboratory Reusable Booster System program. Lockheed Martin is one of three contractors in the preliminary design phases of this program that will demonstrate the advanced technologies necessary to develop and operate a first-stage booster that is capable of landing back at the launch site after performing its mission, and being rapidly prepared for reuse. The Air Force is looking to this program to demonstrate the technologies that will significantly lower costs for its space launch needs. Lockheed is committed to flying from Spaceport America if selected to move into the second phase of the program. The New Mexico Spaceport Authority and the US Army White Sands Missile Range are committed to provide unmatched capability to support the program.
Anchor tenant Virgin Galactic announced the return of Spaceship Two to flight status after its down time for a few months for upgrades. Upgrades were necessary so that the vehicle can transition from subsonic glide flights to supersonic, rocket-powered flights. In late May, vehicle supplier Scaled Composites was granted an Experimental Permit by the FAA to conduct these rocket powered test flights.
Construction activities continue to show steady progress on the remaining phase 1 construction projects at the Spaceport. The three phase 1 construction projects remaining at the Spaceport Operations Center (SOC), the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space (The Gateway) and the communications infrastructure project. Since our last newsletter, the SOC facility has progressed by achieving the final approval from the State Fire Marshall’s Office, all punch list items have been completed by the contractor and the New Mexico Construction Industries Division (CID) building inspector has issued a Temporary Certificate of Completion with minor construction activities remaining. The contractor for the SOC is anticipating a Final certificate of Completion by the end of June. Additionally, the SOC fit-out contractor is continuing to develop the interior design concepts. This design contractor anticipates completion in November with construction fit-out completion expected in May 2013. This building will house the New Mexico Spaceport Authority staff as well as the on-site contractors that support security, safety, fire, emergency medical services, grounds keeping, janitorial and airfield/space management.
Commissioning activities continue with the different operational aspects of the project. The General Services contractor will start the commission and operations of the waste water system this month. Meanwhile, The Gateway facility is scheduled for fire suppression system testing beginning in early July. The contractor is preparing for final commissioning of the major operating systems in the facility.
Internet and IP phone connectivity is being provided by the New Mexico Department of Information Technology (DOIT) and site wide facility communication integration is being provided by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority contractor. The scheduled completion is October.
SPACEPORT VEHICLES AND PAYLOAD PROCESSING FACILITIES
NMSA completed the competitive selection of several vehicles and structures for the Spaceport. A contract was awarded to Oshkosh Corporation for the development of the Air Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) vehicle. The ARFF is a unique vehicle that supports accident recovery efforts on or off the airfield and launch pads through speed, large water carrying capacity, off-road performance and agent discharging rates. We expect delivery in about 10 months.
NMSA also purchased two modular facilities from Modular Space Corporation to support payload processing and range control at the Spaceport Vertical Launch area. These facilities will provide much needed support to our vertical launch customers during preparation and launch events.
The southern road from I-25 Exit 32 to the Spaceport is progressing on schedule. The Environmental Survey contractor is completing the survey and will begin to document findings for the BLM review and finalization in September. The BLM had an Open House in Hatch to discuss the project with the public. NMSA attended as well. Meanwhile the Dona Ana County Engineers are completing drawing specifications in preparation for issuing the road construction RFP.
The Visitor Experience Development project is in full swing in the design development phase. Development of the guest experience show content continues and the facilities design team is developing the mechanical, electrical, plumbing, structural and acoustics packages for the on-site visitor center and welcome centers.
NMSA let a Request for Proposals for the welcome centers land selection on May 17 and is currently in source selection. Following that, NMSA plans to issue an RFP for the facilities development.
MEDIA / PUBLIC SPEAKING
We hosted EuroNews a the Spaceport. EuroNews is the most-watched international news channel in Europe. Everyday 5.7 million Europeans watch EuroNews. They broadcast in eleven languages in 155 countries. EuroNews in cooperation with the European Space Agency is producing a 12 minute segment on commercial space.
We hosted the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau and eleven travel magazine writers on a tour of the Spaceport. Smithsonian Magazine will be featuring Spaceport America in an upcoming fall issue and will include aerial images of the spaceport. Also the Smithsonian Channel is currently running a story on Spaceport America this season on a show called Aerial America. National Geographic Magazine will also be featuring Spaceport America in their upcoming National Geographic Special Edition of Space in July.
The Intrepid Museum in New York City will have the Space Shuttle Enterprise on permanent display and NASA has created a display for this exhibit, opening July 19, that will feature an image of Spaceport America.
Our Guest editorial titled “A World Class Visitor Experience at Spaceport America” ran in the Santa Fe New Mexican in June.
The NMSA Executive Director was interviewed about recent commercial space events on KKOB radio, Albuquerque and KSFR radio in Santa Fe. She also spoke at the Kiwanis Club in Albuquerque, the Association of Commerce & Industry annual membership meeting in Cloudcroft and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Management Technical Committee meeting in Albuquerque.
Our next regular New Mexico Spaceport Authority Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for August 1 in Las Cruces. Announcements for this meeting will be in the Las Cruces Sun News newspaper and on our web site.
We would also like to welcome our new NMSA Board member, Dr Paul Deason. Paul was recently appointed by the Governor to fill an NMSA Board vacancy.
Spaceport America was first licensed by the FAA for vertical launches in 2008 when we were granted our Launch Site Operator License (LSOL). We have supported 15 vertical launches from the Spaceport since 2006. Some of these were amateur-class launches that did not require an FAA license even though they reached space. Each year, we must pass a license inspection by the FAA in order to retain our LSOL. We passed our most recent inspection on April 26, 2012. We will be pursuing our horizontal LSOL from the FAA in the next several months. We require some test flight data and other information from our anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic, in order to prepare the application for this broadening of our license. The required information has become available from VG in the last few days, so we are moving forward with the FAA application. It is a highly detailed process and will take approximately 8 months. On May 17, we successfully completed installation our Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) at the Spaceport. The AWOS is an FAA-certified weather station that provides wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, visibility, sky conditions, and characterization of current precipitation (i.e. rain, snow, sleet, drizzle, if any). This is a necessary system to support airfield operations, and in particular, horizontal launches. The data will be available to the pilots of space vehicles awaiting take-off and those already airborne, and will be archived and analyzed as an aid in future mission planning and statistical analysis. Our new space operations contractor, White Sands Research and Developers (WSRD), LLC is supporting us in the development of operational policies and procedures that will guide our space launch activities. To that end, we, along with other commercial space vehicle and spaceport operators, will be participating in an FAA commercial space operations training course and exercise later this month. Because commercial space operations have never before been conducted at the rates now planned (as often as multiple missions per day), developing efficient ways to schedule and conduct these missions safely and with minimal detrimental effects on other airspace users will be a learning experience for all including the FAA. We currently expect to host a NASA-sponsored suborbital launch by our customer UP Aerospace in the early fall. This launch will be conducted as part of the NASA Flight Opportunities Program that is designed to encourage emerging launch system developers and to foster innovative suborbital research. The rocket also will carry several payloads designed and developed by New Mexico student groups as a continuation of the Space Grant Consortium Student Launch Program.
Most of our Phase 1 construction projects are wrapping up with nine out of twelve projects achieving substantial completion. The remaining three construction projects are the Spaceport Operations Center (SOC), The Virgin Galactic Gateway to space (The Gateway) and the communication infrastructure project. The SOC facility is almost complete. We just need to verify that all punch-list items have been addressed and get final approvals from the State Fire Marshall’s Office and the Construction Industries Division (CID). The SOC fit-out contractor is beginning work on the interior design. This building will house the New Mexico Spaceport Authority staff as well as the on-site support contractors that support security, safety, fire and emergency medical services.We continue to commission and adjust different operational aspects of the project like water and electrical systems to ensure efficient site-wide operations. Meanwhile The Gateway is nearing completion. The punch list is under development and the commissioning within the facility is being worked by the contractor. We will then seek approval by the State Fire Marshall’s Office and CID. The last remaining project in phase 1 is the spaceport communication infrastructure. Internet and IP phone connectivity is being provided by the New Mexico Department of Information Technology (DOIT) and site wide communications integration in the Spaceport facilities is being constructed by an NMSA contractor. We currently have internet fiber and voice lines installed. The scheduled date for completion is October. The New Mexico General Services Department (GSD) awarded a contract on behalf of NMSA to acquire two control van structures to support vertical launch operations at the Spaceport vertical launch site. GSD also awarded a contract to build an air rescue and fire fighting vehicle to support space operations.
Currently there is one paved road into the facility routed through Truth or Consequences. We are working with Sierra County and Dona Ana County to build another access road along the existing county road from I-25 Exit 32. The southern road will be a much more direct path for travelers coming from the southern regions of the State. The BLM is the Federal Agency sponsoring the road and as such, is the authority for related National Environmental Policy Act items. So far, the BLM has rendered a preliminary decision to pursue an Environmental Assessment for the road. NMSA has contracted to perform the related bio and cultural surveys needed to support the final BLM decision that should be rendered by December 2012. Following that decision by the BLM to proceed, Dona Ana County will contract to have the road built with NMSA funding. We are on track to complete the road in December 2013. I met with the BLM Regional Director in May and we met with Dona Ana County to assess progress this week. The road is 23.7 miles long. BLM is hosting a “scoping” meeting at the Hatch High School on June 4, 4-7PM to discuss the scope of the project. The public is welcome to attend.
The Visitor Experience Development project is now proceeding into design development phase, having reached Schematic design level on April 20. In design development, the design team, led by our contractor IDEAS, begins to fully flesh out the program in terms of guest experience and their various associated visitor-related facilities, including two off-site welcome centers, off-site shuttle transportation, the on-site visitors center, on-site shuttle transportation, the entrance/security facility and plaza, and the public gallery inside The Gateway building. The elements of the experience have been selected and vetted based on concept research conducted in our target markets, and the response from the target customers (potential visitors) has been very positive. The demand forecast projected approximately 200,000 visitors to Spaceport America in the first full year of visitor experience operation, and all facility sizing and operational planning has been derived to properly accommodate the associated design day criteria. The plan is to acquire and build these facilities in a step-by-step process, beginning with the selection of locations of the off-site Welcome Centers. NMSA let an RFP for land selection on May 17 and plans to take the next step, issuing an RFP for facilities developer, shortly after the conclusion of land source selection. The facilities developer will build the welcome centers and on-site visitor center to the design spec provided by IDEAS, and lease them back to NMSA. Finally, NMSA will license a firm to operate the visitor experience on behalf of NMSA. Another piece of the puzzle is an overhaul and refresh of the Spaceport America brand and visual identity. The website for Spaceport America, last upgraded in 2008, is set for replacement along with new business cards, stationery, signage, tradeshow booth, etc. We are planning to publicly unveil the new look and website this summer.
In the meantime, if anyone would like to visit Spaceport America, please remember we offer a Preview Tour on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through our exclusive, official tour operator, Follow the Sun Inc. Doña Ana and Sierra County residents may qualify for special discounted rates. For more information and booking, please visit www.ftstours.com.
In the past few months, we have awarded multiple competively bid contracts for various services at Spaceport America, leading to more local job creation. Many of these are related to developing our operational policies and procedures and performing pre-operational drills and commissioning activities. As mention above, we have contracted WSRD of Las Cruces for the space operations contract, and Fiore Industries, Inc, of Albuquerque to perform both protective services and IT services. Additionally, we have awarded a contract for general maintenance services to Western Building and Development, LLC, of Las Cruces, and a contract to Parametrix of Albuquerque to conduct the Southern Road environmental assessment. In sum these contracts will generate approximately 30 jobs.
MEDIA / PUBLIC SPEAKING
In the month of May we hosted numerous media representatives including Conde Nast Traveler Magazine, TV Tokyo, ARD German National Public Radio, German newspaper Die Zeit. We also gave interviews to KSFR Public Radio in Santa Fe radio, Popular Science Magazine and Virtuoso Life Magazine. We also met with the Sun- News Editorial Board. Our NMSA guest editorial titles “A World Class Visitor Experience at Spaceport America” ran in the following New Mexico newspapers this month: Sierra County Sentinel, Las Cruces Sun-News, Albuquerque Journal, Las Cruces Bulletin, Silver City Sun-News and the Deming Headlight. We also spoke at the International Facility Managers Association of Albuquerque, the University of New Mexico Physics and Mechanical Engineering Departments and the Astronomical Society of Albuquerque. Upcoming speaking engagements include the Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Farm and Ranch Museum on June 7, the Southern Council of Government (SCOG) Board Meeting on June 14 and the New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry in Cloudcroft on June 26.
We participate in many open meetings; some are hosted by NMSA and others are hosted by other organizations. We had a NMSA Special Board meeting April 18 at the NMSA Las Cruces office to approve the award of two contracts. We participated in the SCOG on April 27 in Elephant Butte. We also participated in the quarterly Spaceport Community Council meeting sponsored by the Sierra County Economic Development Organization (SCEDO) on April 11 in Truth or Consequences. We also participated in the monthly Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce Commercial Space Committee Meeting on May 10. Upcoming open meetings are the Spaceport America Regional Space District (SARSD) Board meeting on June 13 in Hatch, and the NMSA Board meeting on May 20 in Las Cruces. Announcements for these meetings will be in the Las Cruces Sun newspaper and on our web site.
We are determined to complete the Spaceport and operate it with NO further State funds other than the original $209M. Fiscal year 2013 which starts July 1 will be the most difficult year as we are transitioning from construction and pre-operation to full operation in 2014 when our steady revenue stream begins. Also various tax bond funds start to “expire” in 2013. The Gross Receipts Tax Bonds from Sierra County and Dona Ana County had an excellent year in 2012 which resulted in “excess pledged revenue” after the bond debt and reserve were paid by the New Mexico Finance Authority that manages the fund. Unlike tax bonds proceeds that cannot be used for operational purposes, the excess pledged revenue can be used for operational purposes. Following approval for release of this excess pledged revenue by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority Board in August, the Spaceport America Regional Spaceport District in November and the New Mexico Finance Authority Board in March, NMSA received the $293,000 excess pledged revenue. This will allow us to make it through FY 13 by using it to pay some of the rising FY 13 operational costs like the Spaceport electric bill and the internet/communications bill, for example, without asking for any additional tax payer funding. We are grateful for the funds dedicated to this project and are committed to completing and operating it with no additional tax payer contribution.