Now that you know that the Richard-Branson-backed commercial space tourism vehicle SpaceShip Two has passed its initial flight tests, are you ready to bid on the restaurant concession at its home base, Spaceport America? The New Mexico Spaceport Authority is ready to hear proposals. It’s a ground floor opportunity that won’t come around again.
Virgin Galactic’s space vehicle completed its first solo glide flight this past weekend, and backers say it’s a key milestone in the development of this venture. Further tests are planned, of course, but already 370 customers have signed up for trips on SpaceShip Two, which go for $200,000 apiece.
When flights start, they will depart from and return to Spaceport America, where the state of New Mexico has been busily building facilities that will accommodate what it hopes is a burgeoning space industry, travel and otherwise. It’s expected to be both a huge tourist draw and economic engine for the state.
The Spaceport’s location is off the beaten path. The 28.5-square-mile site sits about 45 miles north of Las Cruces and 30 miles east of Truth or Consequences. But there should be plenty of business when space activities get rolling, and whoever wins the foodservice concession there will be dealing with a captive audience.
On Oct. 6, 2010 the state of New Mexico published a “Request For Information” regarding visitor services for Spaceport America. Officials are wondering what operators think would work at this site. They’re taking a blank slate approach, so the playing field for this contract will be as level as it gets.
Here’s specifically what the New Mexico Spaceport Authority wants to know. (Note: the “welcome centers:” are tourist-gathering areas located outside the Spaceport proper.)
“Food and Beverage: The following questions relate specifically to Food and BeverageServices. These questions are optional, please respond based on your interest and area ofexpertise:
“The food and beverage facilities should be considered both at the welcome centers and onsite.
a. What type and quality of food and beverage service do you feel is most appropriate to have at the welcome centers and why? Would this best be met by flagged (chain) or non-flagged (non-chain) services?
b. What type and quality of food and beverage service do you feel is most appropriate to have onsite and why?
c. What creative ideas do you have for food and beverage that would make the service meet the vision of Spaceport America?
d. What suggestions do you have to provide local food vendors opportunities to participate?
e. What areas of food and beverage could be sponsorship opportunities?”
Sounds like they’re open to anything. Here are some parameters that describe how the New Mexico authorities see this project. As you can see, they’re thinking big:
“Spaceport America Vision: To lead the world in enabling safe and economical access to space through collaborative innovation to enhance the quality of life for all mankind.
“Spaceport America Mission: To develop and operate the world’s first purpose-built commercial Spaceport to attract the future space industry, deliver prosperity through public and private cooperation, and inspire the next generation.
“Project Description: Spaceport America will be the world’s first inland, purpose-built commercial Spaceport. It will be capable of accommodating the activities of both vertical and horizontal launch (sub-orbital and orbital) space vehicles, serving as the base for pre-flight and post-flight activities, and providing a center for tourists and interested spectators.
“Spaceport America’s development and management is led by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, which was established by the Spaceport Development Act of 2005. US-based Virgin Galactic will be the Spaceport’s anchor tenant. Virgin Galactic will locate its primary launch and operational activities at Spaceport America, and its global headquarters in New Mexico.”
We first wrote about Branson’s interest in space tourism in 2009. He’s come very far very quickly, so don’t bet against him on this one. If you want to get in on the ground floor of the budding commercial space industry, this is your chance.
You don’t need to respond to this “Request For Information” to participate in the bidding process the subsequent “Request For Proposal” document will describe. But it wouldn’t hurt to plant the seed of your ideas with Spaceport officials while their minds are so open.
To see the full “Request For Information” and to get details on how you can participate, go to www.spaceportamerica.com/news/requests-for-proposals. Click on the download link RFI Visitor Services Final 06 Oct 2010.pdf you’ll see there.