Extracts from the BUSINESS PLAN


© Copyright Dr Milson Macleod 2005

Major space-ports (described as 'Space Port A' in Appendix B) are planned with a longitudinally extended terminal building with access on both sides to twelve landing pads, which may be protected from the elements by sloping roofs. A 'Space Port C' is identical to a 'Space-Port A' without the shuttle manufacturing facilities.

This refers of course to initial operations. Once the concept has been accepted to the point that major international airports are being replaced by Space-Ports, the number of landing pads could increase significantly. With smaller loads (up to 50 passengers) shuttles could be scheduled optimally to leave every 30 minutes. We are assuming 200 passengers per flight in our calculations.

At Vancouver International Airport for example, which is the second largest in Canada with 15.7 million passengers annually, there were 270,400 take-offs and landings in 2004, which equates to 370 planes landing and taking off again daily.

15.7 million passengers landing/taking off 270,400 times would only average 58 passengers per landing/take-off, so general aviation statistics must be included in these figures.

A space-port with just 12 landing pads could equal this in actual flight activity, with flights landing and taking off every 30 minutes 30 times daily (a 15 hour day) and with 50 passengers coming and going each time, this would total over 13 million passengers - at least in theory, but probably not in practice. However it can be seen that even small space-ports can cope extremely well with large numbers of passengers, so long as their arrival and departure is reasonably well spread out over the course of each day.

For 'difficult' destinations, hitherto unusable by commercial aircraft, two landing pads and a terminal building are all that would be required (referred to as a 'Space-Port B'). Computerized landing control is accurate to six inches. At the centre of each landing pad would be an in-built locating-beacon. In extreme cases - or in disaster zones - only ONE landing site would suffice, with a portable office.

The control tower is of very limited use, as almost all controls are housed within the shuttle itself and would be used basically for passing messages on to shuttles and directing them to a specific landing pad. In a 'Space-Port B' it might not even be necessary.

The terminal building would be basically on one level, simplifying construction and support systems, and making it very cost-effective, although a restaurant might be on a second floor and the control tower above that again.

The manufacture of shuttles requires a warehouse for parts and supplies with six or more hangars located on one side of the property, allowing shuttles to be run out on to landing pads, and some independent assembly sheds. The major components are the engine (occupying less than 2m3 space), the undercarriage or landing assembly, computer controls, and the shell itself.

Long-term parking, as well as staff and short-term parking, would be provided for on the property, but could be leased out to professionals in that field.

Once operations are phased out at major airports these might be taken over for use as space-ports, with the excess land being returned to the public for other more useful purposes. The existing airport infrastructure could be utilized also for shuttle operations, and use of land-based connecting services (buses, taxis etc) could be continued, minimizing economic disruption.

Auxiliary landing pads may also be located for specific purposes in the same city as the main spaceport.

There may be a need to replace less efficient sea-ferries, especially those handling passengers (vehicular traffic will not be considered initially), and this service could be handled by a "B" spaceport. It would also open up the possibility of extra destinations as a shuttle can land where no other aircraft can land (other than water).

A good example would be the City of Vancouver, where the spaceport is planned outside downtown, but an additional downtown landing pad could not only provide an alternative to many of the existing ferry services but also provide a new, more efficient service to Whistler, which would be a great convenience with the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in 2010. It would also prove to be a unique attraction for both competitors and spectators, allowing more people to arrange accommodation in Vancouver rather than Whistler itself, which has fewer tourist facilities than the City of Vancouver.

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