Blue Origin Reveals Spaceport Plan

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The FAA has released its draft Environmental Assessment for a plan by Blue Origin to build a spaceport in West Texas. The move was welcomed by space fans as a move forward in what seems to be an excruciatingly slow-moving process, and a glimpse into what the secretive company has in the works. The FAA report says Blue Origin plans to launch reusable launch vehicles to altitudes above 325,000 feet. The spaceport plans include a launch complex, a training facility and a landing area. Space Review gleaned a few more facts from the 229-page document -- the planned reusable launch vehicle (RLV), dubbed the "New Shepard," will take off vertically, using hydrogen peroxide and kerosene as propellants. A separate crew capsule atop the propulsion module could carry three or more paying passengers. After zooming 100 kilometers into space, the RLV would return to a vertical landing, or under another scenario, the crew capsule would separate and land beneath a parachute. The entire trip would take about 10 minutes. Operations could start as soon as 2010.