As the world’s first commercial spaceport nears completion the project’s future is called in to question.
The $200 billion project is to be the first of many planned spaceports around the United States, with plans for entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to launch tourism trips in to space from the site within the next few years. Questions have however arisen over the commercial viability of the spaceport, with lagging development and competition from other states creating potential problems for the endeavor before it has even begun.
“Right now, the industry is not there to support it,” said space company adviser professor Alex Ignatiev. XCOR Aerospace Chief Operating Officer Andrew Nelson however is more optimistic – “In the next couple to three years, there’s going to be a demonstrative reduction in the cost to launch stuff … so we are going to have a lot more people coming out of the woodwork,” he said.
Currently, the Spaceport can count on two rocket companies that send vertical payloads into space and Virgin Galactic, the Branson space tourism venture that says it has signed up more than 500 wealthy adventurers for $US200,000 ($192,000)-per-person spaceflights.