20 September 2012

Commercial US Spaceport to Launch Cargo to ISS

On 17 September aerospace firm Orbital Sciences of Dulles announced a deal with the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority to launch cargo runs to the International Space Station (ISS) from a private spaceport on the state's eastern coast.

If Orbital's pre-mission tests go as planned next month, their first demonstration flight could happen by the end of the year, and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport on Wallops Island will become the first commercial spaceport to launch a mission to the ISS. The new deal formalises Orbital's use of the Virginia spaceport, where a launch pad has been built to send the company's Antares rocket beyond the stratosphere. _New Scientist
Other private US spaceports are located in southern California and New Mexico.

Of course, if Burt Rutan's Stratolaunch system is successful, just about any airport with a sufficiently long runway could become a "spaceport," in a manner of speaking.

The development of space resources is one of a number of crucial steps which humans must make to achieve the next level. It is clear that the competitive nature of private space launch and development can provide the activation energy necessary for humans to climb over the obstacles that have held them back so far.


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