Virgin rocket-ship terminal revealed

Pictures of the coach station to the stars


The Branson biz empire's suborbital-tourism-for-the-wealthy operation, Virgin Galactic, yesterday unveiled the architectural designs for its rocket-ship terminal at Spaceport America, the nascent commercial space base in New Mexico.

A cutaway view of the futuristic cowpat-styled terminal.

The designs chosen were put together by a team composed of American engineers from URS Corp and noted Brit architect Lord Norman Foster's operation, Foster + Partners. Foster has been resposible for lots of high-profile buildings and structures, including the London "Gherkin" and the Millennium footbridge across the Thames - which famously had to be closed soon after opening because people walking on it caused it to wobble dangerously. (Foster resisted the idea that the problems were in any way his fault, blaming engineers Arup.)

Regarding the new Spaceport America terminal, Lord Foster said: "We are absolutely thrilled to be part of the dynamic team chosen to design the world’s first space terminal. This technically complex building will not only provide a dramatic experience for the astronauts and visitors, but will set an ecologically sound model for future Spaceport facilities."

God knows why we're all here, the whole fleet only has thirty seats.

The low-lying, brown, blobby-looking complex will include Virgin Galactic training facilities and the hangar for the space-line's fleet of five SpaceshipTwo rocketplanes - tickets from $200k - as well as a pair of White Knight Two carrier planes, which will carry the rockets up to launch altitude. Visitors will be able to view the hangar from an overhead walkway, and observe the runway from the front of the building.

Beardy biz kingpin Branson expressed his excitement, saying that, "the vision for the world’s first purpose-built private spaceport is truly out of this world ... Next year will see the first test flights of SpaceShipTwo and it is fantastic that we will now have a permanent home to go to, which will be every bit as inspiring for the astronauts of the future as Burt Rutan’s groundbreaking [spaceship] technology.”

The new complex is expected to cost $31m, paid by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA), an arm of the state government. It will be the headquarters of NMSA, as well as that of Virgin Galactic. The Branson fat-cats-in-space operation will reportedly lease about 80 percent of the space.

More pictures (in very hi res) are available from NMSA here


Other stories you might like

  • Robotics and 5G to spur growth of SoC industry – report
    Big OEMs hogging production and COVID causing supply issues

    The system-on-chip (SoC) side of the semiconductor industry is poised for growth between now and 2026, when it's predicted to be worth $6.85 billion, according to an analyst's report. 

    Chances are good that there's an SoC-powered device within arm's reach of you: the tiny integrated circuits contain everything needed for a basic computer, leading to their proliferation in mobile, IoT and smart devices. 

    The report predicting the growth comes from advisory biz Technavio, which looked at a long list of companies in the SoC market. Vendors it analyzed include Apple, Broadcom, Intel, Nvidia, TSMC, Toshiba, and more. The company predicts that much of the growth between now and 2026 will stem primarily from robotics and 5G. 

    Continue reading
  • Deepfake attacks can easily trick live facial recognition systems online
    Plus: Next PyTorch release will support Apple GPUs so devs can train neural networks on their own laptops

    In brief Miscreants can easily steal someone else's identity by tricking live facial recognition software using deepfakes, according to a new report.

    Sensity AI, a startup focused on tackling identity fraud, carried out a series of pretend attacks. Engineers scanned the image of someone from an ID card, and mapped their likeness onto another person's face. Sensity then tested whether they could breach live facial recognition systems by tricking them into believing the pretend attacker is a real user.

    So-called "liveness tests" try to authenticate identities in real-time, relying on images or video streams from cameras like face recognition used to unlock mobile phones, for example. Nine out of ten vendors failed Sensity's live deepfake attacks.

    Continue reading
  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022