The new issue of Air & Space Smithsonian features a look at the future of spaceports, bases for space tourism that are being proposed all over the world, from Singapore and Sweden to Uphan, New Mexico, Columbus, Ohio, and Sheyboygan, Wisconsin. (The author of the article, Ed Regis, has written several fantastic future science books like the Great Mambo Chicken And The Transhuman Condition and Nano! The True Story of Nanotechnology.) (Seen here is a conceptual drawing of Space Adventures' Spaceport Singapore.)
From the article:
The forces behind spaceport fever include national, state, and local governments, crown princes, private investors, dot-com billionaires, regular billionaires, aerospace engineers, test pilots, former astronauts, rocket hobbyists, and space cadets of every stripe. All seem to believe that spaceports will be the hot new industry, the next biotech, a completely novel sector of commerce that will produce tall geysers of cold cash and bring jobs, rocket paparazzi, and throngs of deep-pocketed tourists, spectators, and assorted space-niks swarming into the spaceport's neighborhood. In a scrubby patch of southern New Mexico, for example, a spaceport–Spaceport America–is poised to bring economic salvation to a state that ranks 39th in gross state product.
"Potentially it's 6,000 jobs," said New Mexico governor (and now presidential candidate) Bill Richardson last year. "The potential for tourism, for jobs, for new technologies moving into New Mexico is huge."
It was Richardson himself who was responsible for bringing Virgin Galactic to the state as Spaceport America's anchor tenant–a feat akin to getting Microsoft to move to Santa Fe, perhaps, except for the minor detail that Virgin Galactic had, at that point, no operational spacecraft in the stable and wouldn't for some time.
Jerry Larson, president of UP (pronounced up!) Aerospace, another Spaceport America tenant, is also bullish on the spaceport's future. "There's this huge market waiting there," Larson told the Rocky Mountain News last September. "It's a multibillion-dollar industry waiting to be birthed."