Richard Branson has given space lovers a taste of what to expect when they check-in at Virgin Galactic’s “Gateway to Space” terminal, signalling that the operation’s reality is fast approaching.
Located on 18,000 acres of State Trust Land in New Mexico, the 670,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility is designed by Foster & Partners and will house both Mission Control and the departure and arrival lounges for future space tourists.
The colours and contours of the building are designed to reflect the New Mexico environment and the structure is equipped with the latest technology that’s said to be highly energy-efficient.
The facility will also host Virgin Galactic’s space fleet, with the massive hanger large enough to accommodate two commercial spacecraft – each with a wingspan of 140 feet – along with five SpaceShipTwo vehicles.
The lower level of the building plays host to the ‘Gaia Lounge’ where people will check-in for their space flights and greet those returning.
The centrepiece of this comfortable waiting area is Barista Island, a social hub where passengers can eat breakfast and mingle with the flight crew and those from Mission Control. The use of warm and earthy colours is meant to encourage human interaction amongst passengers and crew and set them at ease before takeoff.
Upstairs, however, is where the magic happens. The large area includes Mission Control, the Pilot Corps and other Flight Operation teams, along with a Mission Briefing Room. Unlike the Gaia Lounge that embraces the earthy colour tones, the sky-blue, white and grey interiors throughout Mission Control reflect the sky and clouds.
The ‘Gateway to Space’ is set to become fully operational by next year, but until then you can check out a virtual tour of the facility in the video below and then visit virgingalactic.com for more information on how you can spend your US$250,000 to secure a spot in Virgin’s commercial space flight program.