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Spaceport America “Gateway to Space” Hangar Facility

By Edith Cherry and James See – May 20, 2022

Address:  Upham, New Mexico

Access: See Website

Spaceport America, located 30 miles southeast of Truth or Consequences in the Jornada del Muerto desert, is the first commercial spaceport built in the world. The location, near historic El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, offers plenty of area for both vertical and horizontal takeoffs for space travel.

The major architectural feature of the complex is the “Gateway to Space” hangar facility.  The undulating, earth-colored roof and the adjacent earth berms provide a profile that mimics the rolling plains of the high desert terrain.

SpaceShipTwo and VMS Eve in the hangar of the Gateway to Space, Spaceport America  © Virgin Galactic 2020
Gaia lounge at Gateway to Space, Spaceport America, New Mexico © Virgin Galactic 2019

The hangar portion of the building, with the required clear span ceiling, allows for air and spacecraft capable of reaching the edge of space.  The Gaia Lounge and Dining area is glazed and faces east toward the runways and takeoff areas. These landscape views are the same enjoyed by explorers from the late 16th century through today.

A support facility includes a fire station, and other maintenance functions.  This facility is domed, preserving the overall image of the complex.

Completed: 2014
Design Architect:  Foster + Partners   Website
Executive Architect:  SMPC Architects   Website      
Contractor: Summit West


Jeff Harnar Award for Contemporary Architecture (2014)
American Institute of Architects, Western Mountain Region Merit Award (2014)American Institute of Architects, Albuquerque Chapter, Merit AwardAmerican Institute of Architects, Design Awards Program, New Mexico Student Jury, UNM School of Architecture + Planning (2014)American Council of Engineering Companies, Engineering Excellence Award (2013)NAIOP Award of Excellence, Eagle Award, Industrial Category

Special thanks to Alice Carruth, Public Relations Coordinator, New Mexico Spaceport Authority for her assistance with this post.

Learn More:

4:12 Minute Video on New Mexico Space History







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