Next time that you’re waiting for your trip to space, you’ll be able to do so in style. Well fine, space travel is still a few decades away for us meager mortals, but at the very least, we can marvel at the beautiful and science-fiction inspired designs for the New Mexico Spaceport Authority building from Foster + Partners which not only aim to make you get into the mood for space travel, they will also meet LEED platinum standards when finished.

The winning team, led by Foster + Partners and which includes URS, SMPC Architects, PHA Consult, Balis and Company and Exploration-Synthesis Partners, worked hard to provide a setting which would capture the drama of space flight, something which, I think that we can all agree, they succeeded on all counts.

But here at Inhabitat, we like to think that pretty pictures and great design should go hand in hand with incredible environmental performance, and this particular building does, in spades. The entire building was dug into the natural landscape to better use the thermal mass provided by the ground. It has also been designed with reducing not just its energy usage by using skylights and natural ventilation, but to diminish the actual embodied energy of the building materials as much as possible (something which you’ll be hearing much more from the more cutting-edge designs as they come down the line).

We hope that future spaceport developments look at this design, not as the best that they can do, but rather, as a minimum from where to start their work from. We are sure that they can figure it out, after all, they will have a building full of rocket scientists to do so.

+ The New Mexico Spaceport Authority Building by Foster + Partners


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  1. Space Sheepz » Sc... November 21, 2007 at 12:47 pm

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  2. Sci-fi inspired Spacepo... October 21, 2007 at 8:16 pm

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  3. Alan B Cole September 23, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Closer examination has revealed this is designed for blast protection.people have already sacrificed themselves for this bold endeavor. They selected the desert because of all the high explosive fuel. They have had accidents time to time. One hell of a dangerous amusement park. I’m sure they will try to make things as safe as possible.
    but I would like to here some honesty about the true dangers to our environment in are lives.

  4. judy September 22, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    The future of space travel and exploration lies in private enterprise. We are certainly getting nowhere with NASA and it’s 30 year old technology. Unless we do have a black ops space program going now. As for the government spending money on space travel and leaving the poor to starve, we have sure spent it wisely in Iraq. And then there is Katrina to ponder.

  5. Ender September 19, 2007 at 3:44 am

    After reading all of thse posts I am reminded of a joke I heard when I was a kid in the eighties:

    Two guys are sitting on the patio one Sunday, chatting away when one of them says,

    “I read an article this morning, and this astronomer was sayin’ that the world is gonna end in five billion years.”

    “What?!?!” yells the other man, in a sudden panic.

    “…uh, yeah, he says the world’s gonna end in five billion years.”

    “Phew…,”says the other, settling back into his lawn chair. “I thought you said five million.”

    My only regret is that I won’t live to see the first season of “American Idol: The Moon”

  6. Alex September 18, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    I cannot look up at the sky and say, “mankind will be content to spend its time sitting here on while theres a whole universe with billions of galaxies and trillions upon trillions of of worlds to explore”. Im not saying that its gonna happen in 500 or even 5,000 years,.but ill tell you this, humans are gonna keep exploring and expanding, this little planet of ours is just a little rock in a big universe, i say lets go exploring. We cant be discouraged with little things like “it costs too much” or “5 people died” its sad that people die but when havent people died? We should aspire to go beyond the know limits of our world, not just sit here. Lets take it in baby steps, first the moon, then mars, then… who knows? My only regret is i would never live to see humans leave earth and go beyond…………… Im sorry, this is heady thinking. But long story short, lets go into space!

  7. Alan B Cole September 18, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    The future of space travel could be environmentally noninvasive. For example a satellite launched with a Railgun.
    A Railgun consist of two rails, an anode and a cathode. A projectile is placed between these two rails which can also conduct electricity, completing the loop. The electrical energy causes the projectile to accelerate, shooting out the projectile at approaching or surpass orbital escape velocity. In the near future satellites will be launched in this manner. no more rocket fuel. The moon could be easily reached this way, with ionic propulsion, robotics ,micro supercomputers, microwave energy transmitting solar satellites to keep things powered. This endeavor could be achieved faster, significantly less pollution,on tiny budget, without the loss of human lives.
    The only thing that probably won’t be able to be launched out of the thing people.
    We will just have to wait for the space elevator.

  8. Adam September 18, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    I have never read so much rubish as so of the people have written in this site. I bet the same arguments that they are using where used when Columbus set out to explore the new world. They were wrong and so are these people now. We need to explore.

  9. Alan B Cole September 17, 2007 at 3:14 am

    The planet Earth is basically a space ship. We are not going to benefit by destroying our planet in order to mind asteroids or oil on mars. We just fooling ourselves if we think we can fix Mars and move there and live happily ever after. Presently the condition of our planet is serious. The oceans are becoming more polluted daily. From over farming generating nitrogen in order to make a supposedly environmental rocket fuel. It is flowing down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico creating a dead zoune.I’m not saying it’s all the corn production is a lot of things that are more important than going to space Hotel. We need to clean are mess not create a bigger one.
    Guess it’s not so important as a trip to space to you. If we ever had a budget these future space missions will break it. We are flying through space are planet Earth for free without super polluting propulsion and wasteful spending.

  10. Alan B Cole September 17, 2007 at 2:20 am

    First of all I don’t really have a political agenda.I am not socialist,Communist Republican or Democrat,.Basically neutral and try to be objective. Though I am frustrated at the Power Elites the top 2%. If you earn your wealth
    that’s great. Most people inherit it, steal it, and I don’t know how they get it. Do you.
    Honestly the design would be great for a small airport in the desert. I just felt that it was presented like we all just go hang in there and take off on our space ship. Honestly this is not going to happen. What will happen is you just might watch on TV. If you do try to go their they won’t be open for the common people.
    Think our wars are so expensive. A US Mars mission will solve nothing here on earth,except we will be working twice as much trying to keep our wealthy flying to their space motel. How about spending the same amounts of money providing free solar water heating instead. There will be plenty of money left over for even more good works. Just think about it, do you really want your child going to Mars and coming back completely screwed.

  11. icculus September 15, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Awesome! It’s about time we had a spaceport. How could anyone be against space exploration? Dollar for dollar it’s one of the best investments ever made. I’ve heard numbers like for every dollar spent on space you get $20 back. This is a private venture, so there are some real concerns with privatizing space, but for now it’s a good first step. Think funding space is a waste of money? Gosh.. it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of useless wars. Think we should spend the money cleaning up the planet? A major catalyst in sparking the environmental movement was the first picture of our planet taken from the moon, so let’s get the money elsewhere. Space brings us all together.

    This reminds me of a song I heard by Vim’s Spaceship, called “NASA, Kiss My Ass” about the Ansari X Prize and building your own spaceship. It’s online at:

  12. hoyt mcguyer September 15, 2007 at 1:13 am

    If we dont motivate off the 3rd rock, we are destined for extinction, just like our predisessors. The building design is green AND beautiful and if they are using Burt Rutans Rocket motors, which use recycled car rubber and H2O2 for propellant, they arent putting toxins in the air.
    Yes we have problems to solve here on Earth, over population is now and will be more so in the future, a major problem we havent heard nearly enough about. Sonner than later we will exaust the resources available to us and our only hope will be to mine those astaroids which God left for us to use all around our Solar System.

  13. Robert September 15, 2007 at 12:18 am

    It is building for those who have money which leads to development of materials for all. Having wealthy persons pay to go into space is essentially having those “hated rich” you commies and socialist dislike so much, fund the capital development of new technologies which benefit all. And doing it with them being happy about it as opposed to taxing them into poverty where no one is either happy or rich enough to fund such new development. Alan B Cole is an extra moron saying that the USA is a 3rd world country. My friend, I live part of each year in a 3rd world country and travel world wide and you are wrong. So many of you have this problem: You know so much that just isn’t true.

  14. Alan B Cole September 14, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    The truth is are planit is in jeopardy. While the richest wastefully squander Earth’s precious assets pursuing impossible fantasies. There is no reason other than EGO gratification and blind stupidity. This is thinking that has made America a Third World country. Providing medical care is a much grander achievement. stop working your employees to death. To build your evil waste dump in space. just sow you can look down on a polluted starving planet in your plush cockpit. You wealthy destroy everything and everybody around you. Thinking you deserve it all. Somehow this environmental disguise for complete wastefulness and stupidity seem to mix well here in this design. This is a prime example.

  15. juggalo September 14, 2007 at 11:13 pm

    We measure things by what we are. to the maggots in the cheese, the cheese is the universe. to the worms in the coarpse, the coarpse is the casmas. how then can we be so cocked sure of our own existance.Just because of our telescopes,microscopes, and the splitting of the atom? certianly not. Science is but an organized system of ignorance. there are more things in heaven and earth then are written about in your philosiphy. what do we know about the beyond? Do we know whats behind the beyond? I’m afraid some of us hardly know whats beyond the behind!

  16. Scott Houdek(Orion105) September 14, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    WOW, IT’S ABOUT TIME!, this is a better location than the NASA Space Shuttle currently located, the weather is more stable then the tropics, and the design is very very very interesting like “tear-drop” with wings!.
    This gives it a whole new meaning to the phrase “Mile High” and “Frenquent Miles Club”!
    I would’nt be surprise the price of a ticket goes down really fast.:)
    I like to see from the, and Founder; Richard C. Hoaglund go up on that “Starship”!
    I hope that the BIG airline company are paying attention to this “Breakthru” technology.

  17. jerries kid September 14, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    moderate this, if we are going to destroy this planet, with global warming and war, wouldn’t it be nice to have an escape hatch, all be it to a lesser planet, but somewhere to hide from the armeggedan this planet is headed for? with-out us, this planet can heal, restore its’ virility, and shoot! maybe apes will rule? i think all humans would do well to spend some time as less than ‘the superior race’. this i’m ok-your not crap is getting out of control. god would have us know that we are all,as individuals, nothing, nothing. when it all comes to end for all of us, there are 40 versions of reality, and none are the truth.

  18. jerries kid September 14, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    archetecture, by design, is mostly sculpture. a nice picture of some imagined function. i can tell you that,as a builder, most of the crap architects and engineers create, just doesn’t work. if you cringe when you pay your toll at a bridge, just think that it takes more labour to maintane that structure than it cost to build. far more, and building the right thing would be the cheapest way, but then we would have to throw all those creativity muted beings in the crapper, and find a virgin geniuss. do you wonder why google and even nasa sponser build your own science projects? it is because all the intelligence is washed- out of a person in the course of an education. the way forward is to explore and acheive the stars, the north-pole, and the ocean. building some houyty toyty building and claiming its’ gateway to the future is so ignorant. this structure looks like a mayan ruin. we as the only proven life in the universe need to stage a concerted effort to advance, and stop trying to one up our greedy selves. if we mine the moon, we can take our attributes to mars, and maybe create a genisus on that planet. think of it, a place for all the disgruntled peoples to go find there satisfaction! imagine that! it would become the people of mars warring with the people of earth, over some comet- or less…

  19. Doug September 14, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    Its the friggin Millenium Falcon! Look at it! :)

    If Virgin cant succeed in getting people into orbit regularly, then Chewie can just lock in the auxiliary power….Chewie, lock in the auxiliary power!

  20. September 14, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    […] read more | digg story […]

  21. Concerned Engineer September 14, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    This moves us closer to commercial space travel the same way the guy in the Monty Python skit is moved closer to being a lion tamer due to his owning a hat that says “Lion Tamer”. New Mexico’s proram is about attracting tourists, not about space. Now if you want to talk about something in New Mexico that is about space, Sandia Labs militarization of space is an ugly reality. Not a bit like this tourist attracting dream. Terrible, but real.

  22. VISTAGUY2007 September 14, 2007 at 2:14 pm


  23. buildingguy September 14, 2007 at 11:57 am

    It looks like a toilet seat. There is a building very near Washington DC that is famously known as “the toilet bowl building” – a moniker the architecht did not intend. If you want to see it, go to DC and ask anyone where it is. You don’t want your buidling picking up a bad nick-name like that.

  24. Adam September 14, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Space exploration is and can be more than pretty pictures. All the energy we need could be found on the Moon provided we get over the initial expensive hump of procuring it. To say space activity has outlived it’s usefulness is beyond short-sighted. Earth is humanity’s cradle and one does not stay in the cradle forever. There are plenty of reasons to continue on, but saying “why do continue while there is still poverty here on Earth” is not a valid excuse. There will always be poverty in any age.

  25. New Mexico Spaceport Bu... September 14, 2007 at 10:38 am

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  26. Kwijibo September 14, 2007 at 10:38 am

    I am not an expert in this specific subject, but i would like to know the reason for sending people into space now. There is nothing to go up to, my opinion is that we wait until somone gives us a reason to go up to space. After all, space radiation will only kill us quicker. (if i was wrong in any facts in this reply please tell me in the post, as i said i am not an expert in this subject).

  27. rallen September 14, 2007 at 10:33 am

    Some people just don’t want to understand. Poverty is a social issue. Engineering and wealth can do very little to “fix” it. The drive for space has contributed more to humanities’ sciences and material well-being than most people realize. The effects of the “Space Race” have trickled down into agriculture, geology, marine biology, medicine, IT, material science, medicine, etcetera ad nerdium.

    Poverty is caused by social conditions imposed by politics and economics. The money spent on space technology is a drop in the bucket, and would not be ALLOWED to reduce poverty. Poverty is a relative measure. I live below the poverty level in America (yes, I’m American), but that still puts me higher than most of the population of Earth (I have traveled out-of-country).

    Your vague arguments of poverty tell me that you don’t have a very intimate grasp of the subject. I have an AAS in Electronics, a decades experience in aerospace, am halfway through another AAS in Machine Tool Technology, and am supporting a family of 4 (1 is special needs). I can’t get a job because “I’m over-qualified”!

    But I fully support the drive for space over public welfare programs. I know that the benefits will get to me, eventually, and it gives us something that that soup kitchens won’t: hope.

  28. Some Guy September 14, 2007 at 9:49 am

    Hey Sam,

    Get bent. Some things are worth doing even if you misanthropes get all *green* with envy.

  29. WADE M. September 14, 2007 at 9:45 am

    Dreams to realities, I like it!

  30. Karl September 14, 2007 at 9:22 am

    Sam: For many rocket engines, the fuel isn’t toxic. Ex: The exhaust from the shuttle’s liquid fuel engines (not the solid rocket boosters…. that’s pretty toxic) is water. In this case, with a polybutane/nitrous oxide engine, you’re looking at less exhaust than your redneck neighbor burning a car tire in his backyard.

    Joe: There are some people that for whatever reason aren’t capable of getting themselves out of poverty. Giving them money and resources doesn’t help because they become dependent on it. Humanity doesn’t have a solution as yet except to pull the bottom up by pushing the top further — and one of the ways we can do that is space. Think about all the things we’ve gotten from space — artificial fabrics, microwaves, new medicine to treat diseases, a better understanding of human physiology and psychology…

    Even this building is a good example of spaceflight helping those less fortunate. Building ‘green’ buildings like this and making them work gives us as a society the ability to send the plans to places less fortunate so that they can build an effective, naturally cooled building…

    You can’t hold everyone down to the least common denominator forever. That’ll be the death of our species.

  31. tomarsandbyeond September 14, 2007 at 7:51 am

    Its kinda UGLY, it looks like a behind. At least from the air.
    However I hope space travel gets as common a air travel is now. Obviously mankind is meant to explore, if we were given the capability to do so. Why do we always have people saying there should be no space travel while poverty exists? Poverty will always exist, and so will man’s wanderlust and curiosity. I think its exciting to have a spaceport built, its full of possibilities for the future.

  32. Brian September 14, 2007 at 7:37 am

    Dont worry- us OTHER 90% will be enslaved and mining asteroids, not to mention being the other 10%’s servants.

  33. Tony September 14, 2007 at 7:07 am

    I think that this is the initial stage of the whole ‘space exploration’ thing. Ok, we don’t have much purpose for sending people into space at the moment, but think about the ease at which we would be able to get to things that are already built in space. We know that deep space exploration will only happen in ships built in space, so this would be a way of getting to them in the future…

  34. JoeCool September 14, 2007 at 6:46 am

    Anyone who thinks that space exploration is a waste of effort does not deserve the air they breath. The only way to ensure the survival of the species is to colonize other worlds. Humans have been exploring and conquering new land since the day we set foot into reality to stop now would be to deny our human need to discover.

  35. Scott September 14, 2007 at 6:09 am

    Joe? Ever heard of solar energy?

  36. Intollerant American September 14, 2007 at 6:07 am

    Nothing to be learned from space?

    How about the possibility of life on Europa beneath its frozen ice surface rising up and forming cracks and refreezing again. How about learning what happend to mars to make it red and barren or even sending the rovers to look at the mars pyramids.

    How about finding the kuiper belt and the extra planets and reclassification of what we thought to be a planet.
    How about the discovery of hawking radiation.. or the muller-urey experiment.

    I’m sorry nothing to be learned from space? Why dont you go duck and cover under your desk… that way when the nuke comes.. you’ll be fine.

  37. Eric September 14, 2007 at 5:57 am

    Awe-inspiring!!! We all need to remember the focus of what this facility represents. These planes and return vehicles are modeled after Paul Allen and Burt Rutan’s “Space Ship One”. Demonstrating “out of this world” like abilities while winning the ten million dollar Ansari X Prize from the United States Government.This will have the same impact on humankind as the first flights to the moon. Freedom, courage, and enginuity created in the spirit of exploration. No more wishing you could see the earth from space, just buy a ticket and fulfill your dream. And by the way……Micheal…. this is absolutely designed for the “OTHER 90%”… i.e. non government private sector……you and I. So lets get excited, the future is now!!!

  38. KPR September 14, 2007 at 3:23 am

    Perhaps you should have vision farther than the ends of your nose. Only fools would believe that throwing money at our problems will fix them. Africa has recieved billions in aid and yet they remain in poverty largely because those in power in their own nations keep them so. Obviously we have problems that some additional funding could fix, but why aren’t you trying to reclaim the funding from governments wastes (which far outspend this project by the way) rather than a project that could actually make a differance?

    Aside from replying to the idiots; has anyone else noticed that other than simply looking neat, the design is a big toilet seat? Not that I mind adding another item to New Mexico’s list of the world’s biggest, but this seems like someone has an amusing sense of humor.

  39. Frances September 14, 2007 at 3:03 am

    Face it, kids. We simply need to get to outer space. I’m not saying we should send Martha and the children up there, because they’re only going to be ten times as obnoxious as they are on the charter flight today, but for scientists and industrial applications we need steady and continuous access to space.

    If only to build a place for ourselves and extend the reach of our species. We need to get out there, we need to find a way to do deep space exploration.

    @Joe: if we have to wait until poverty is abolished from the planet, we’re going to be sitting here staring at our belly button for a freaking long period of time, my friend.
    We have to face the fact that as humanity we’re not very civil and polite towards the rest of the species. We’re just not. Until such time as we find an answer to that one we can’t just stop everything and not do anything to resolve the world’s serious problems.

    Space exploration is a must if we are to survive.

  40. nbjork September 14, 2007 at 2:59 am

    perhaps we can send those in poverty to outerspace to find new, intergalactic jobs

  41. Michael September 13, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    WOW, simply beautiful design… even if it is not designed for the “OTHER 90%”…

  42. Asa September 13, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Perhaps we can apply the concepts to structures we really need
    like housing shelters, or other community centers, helping to eleveate the sting of poverty
    Rather then launching money laden individuals in some novel adventure

  43. Joe September 12, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    Apart from weather satellites, space activity has outlived it’s usefulness. Even communications is done faster and cheaper these days by fiber optic cable. And I question the need to send ever more souped up toys to other planets while we still have poverty here on earth.

  44. Sam September 12, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    Good job on the building. Now how about the spacecraft? Extraneously flying tourists into orbit isn’t very “green” by any measure.

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