Virgin Galactic Spaceport: Plan Review for the 21st Century
by ICC Senior Staff Engineer Gary Nelson
If all goes according to plan, space tourist flights will originate from a facility in the western United States—a facility that underwent an ICC Plan Review. While it may sound like a science fiction novel, it is real. Near Truth or Consequences, Spaceport America has been providing commercial launch services since 2006. A state-of-the-art launch facility is under construction and is expected to become fully operational in 2011. In December 2009, International Code Council Plan Review Services completed both building and accessibility reviews of the proposed Terminal Hangar Facility for the State of New Mexico's Construction Industries Division. The hangar will be three stories in height with a domed shape, a building area of 66,791 square feet and of Type IIA construction. It is intended to serve as a commercial terminal for the Spaceport America project. The terminal is a major component of Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic's efforts to provide commercial space flight services.

The hangar will have an unusual configuration. There will be a central high-bay area that will house the rocket-propelled space vehicles, the launch jet aircraft and the other support vehicles. The multi-story building wings on each side of the hangar area contain flight control and operations, support services, public interactive display and exhibit areas along with an enclosed public viewing bridge that spans the high-bay area.

The structure posed unusual code review applications in that the public will occupy portions of the building with the space rockets and their inert solid rocket propellant present. Evaluating the proposed means of egress and the accessibility features for those persons with physical disabilities was an integral part of the plan reviews.

The next time you are faced with a "special" building, or even traditional buildings and structures, call ICC Plan Review Services for professional assistance, timely turnarounds and quality reviews.