In October, Virgin Galactics future New Mexico home at Spaceport America, was named the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space by Richard Branson and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, during a dedication event attended by around 800 people including many of Virgin Glactics future astronaut customers. The beautiful new facility aims to provide a model for future buildings of its kind.
The Foster + Partners and URS teams have worked hard to ensure that the worlds first purpose built commercial spaceport seeks to capture the drama and wonder of the space flight itself, whilst making a minimal impact on the environment. It is designed to the prestigious LEED Gold accreditation, which it is on track to achieve, having extensively used recycled and local products.
The build itself was planned to have lowest possible embodied carbon and to require minimal additional energy for operation. This is achieved through making sure as much natural light as possible enters via skylights, as well as fitting low flow plumbing fixtures, low energy light fittings, highly efficient glazing and under-floor heating.
Another interesting feature included is large earth tubes that were laid as the building was constructed. They use the high daytime and low night-time temps to pre-heat or pre-cool the building. Overall, the energy use of the building has been reduced by approximately 60% because of these techniques.
To learn more about the Spaceport, read the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space article.