Runway Extension for Spaceport America

Spaceport America's runway will be extended during the next six months. (Virgin Galactica)

On March 30, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority’s (NMSA) board of directors announced that it has approved a 2,000-foot (610m) extension to the existing runway at Spaceport America – the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport – in order to “better accommodate Virgin Galactic’s spaceline operations.”  The design of the original 10,000 x 200-foot (3,048m x 61m) runway was based on the known requirements at the time it was developed in 2008.  Design work on the extension has already begun based on the NMSA board’s approval. 
Virgin Galactic’s chief test pilot David MacKay gave a presentation to the NMSA board of directors on Wednesday, March 28, explaining the need for an extension to the runway.  Christine Anderson, NMSA Executive Director then said, “Now that Virgin Galactic has performed more flight tests and analyses with their SpaceShipTwo spacecraft and WhiteKnightTwo mothership, their flight requirements are now better known and we have determined that a 2,000-foot extension of the existing runway is necessary to ensure safer operation.”  
The NMSA board of directors approved a plan to pay for the $7 million runway extension from the current $209 million spaceport construction budget.  The planning and design of the extension will take approximately six months, and the contract will go out for bid after the detailed specifications are developed.
Ms Anderson said, “Having a 12,000-foot runway will make Spaceport America more competitive in attracting future commercial space customers, as well as servicing our current anchor tenant’s requirements.”
Virgin Galactic is currently conducting test flight operations in Mojave, California and the extension work on the spaceport’s runway is not expected to cause delays in the startup of Virgin Galactic’s commercial operations.
(Photo: Virgin Galactic)

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