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Southwest Regional Spaceport

X Prize cup
Artist's impression of the X Prize Cup. Credit: X Prize Foundation
A major new spacecraft launch facility to be built near Upham, New Mexico (about 35 miles south of Roswell and 45 miles north of Las Cruces) in order to support the commercialization of space. The spaceport will cover some 27 square miles (70 square kilometers) and serve as the departure point for flights by Virgin Galactic to near-space as well as the venue for the annual X Prize Cup in which rocketeers will compete in a twenty-first century version of the great aviation races of old. The 4,700-foot (1,433-meter) elevation of the site will save on the amount of jet fuel it takes to get the spacecraft to the proper altitude for launch from their mothercraft. Plans call eventually for a full launch complex, a 3,600-meter runway and aviation facility, a payload assembly complex, and other site infrastructure.

According to a study released in December 2005 by aerospace industry consultant Futron Corporation, the Southwest Regional Spaceport could generate as much as $750m per year by 2020.


Jun. 29, 2006: It was announced that the inaugural launch from the new spaceport will take place on Aug. 14, 2006. All being well, on that date a SpaceLoft XL will take off carrying over 50 experiments and payloads from the private and educational sectors, worldwide. The 20-foot-tall, single-stage, 800-pound SpaceLoft XL solid-fuel rocket will accelerate to five times the speed of sound, or nearly 3,400 mph, in 13.5 seconds.

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