The Obama Administration's decision to cease NASA's Constellation mission and retire the shuttle program has catalyzed the efforts of several private companies that have aspirations of sending people into space. They have risen to the occasion technologically and are very close to being able to fulfill this service. Some of the companies have more radical aspirations for their contributions to the private space race; Richard Branson's dream of the first hotel in space is the driving force behind VirginGalactic's space tourism program.
There is a five-year gap between the cessation of the shuttle program and the inception of the Orion missions. The initiation of the Orion mission will begin with the construction of new facilities and spacecraft designed with the ultimate goal of landing on Mars. Until then, NASA will send astronauts to the International Space Station aboard vessels owned and operated by private companies. SpacePort America will help mitigate NASA's responsibilities as it undergoes this transformation, allowing for the Administration's focus to be channelled to Mars missions. Similar to an airport, the spaceport will operate private and public sectors and cater to companies that wish to fill vacant hangers for the private space race. Upon full preparation of the Orion missions, flights through private companies will continue at SpacePort America, assisting NASA with astronaut transportation.
Although some of these commercial space exploration companies are developing in collaboration with government bodies, the sole purpose of companies like VirginGalactic is to provide space travel as a means of tourism for the affording civilian. Companies like this are groundbreaking. They investigate new methods of construction, alternative mechanical systems, hybridized materials, and more efficient systems to realize the most impossible feats through the most concise practices, that will eventually allow man to inhabit space.
Status: School Project
Location: Albuquerque, NM, US