A spaceport, sometimes known as a cosmodrome, is established in different towns worldwide to support spacecraft take-off. According to Aerospace Security, 28 Spaceports exist after the 1957 launching of Sputnik1 from Baikonur Spaceport. Among these, some are inactive, but the majority are still operating as normal. While new towns are planning to construct more cosmodromes, it is vital to learn various requirements beforehand. There is a need for accurate or specific space, space way, employees, tools, reliable technology, management, and relevant systems to make a perfect cosmodrome. Location is key, some lands cannot hold a spaceport when they fail to meet all the requirements that a cosmodrome requires.
A unique continent, Antarctica, is known to be a cold area with a seasonal population of between one thousand and five thousand. Considering the planet’s area, National Geographic identified it as the fifth largest. With an area of 14 point two million square kilometers, Australia is almost half that size occupying eight point six million square kilometers. Antarctica is the driest, coldest, windiest continent, with 98 percent covered by ice. The question is, does this continent qualify to hold a spaceport, and how useful will it be?
The cold, dry, stable air above the Antarctic ice during winter provides the most desired space observations. In this area, you will find the darkest skies with a transparent atmosphere. That makes it easier to adjust the machines being used for a high-efficiency rate. The Polar Journal records China’s plan to construct another station in Antarctica. China confirmed this during the 40th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting held in May 2017 in Beijing. The other China’s four scientific research stations in Antarctica are:
1. Antarctic Great Wall in King George Island
2. Antarctic Zhongshan in Larsemann Hills
3. Antarctic Kunlun in Done Argus
4. Antarctic Taishan in Princess Elizabeth land.
When looking for a place to carry out space research work, Antarctica provides the best environment. In terms of establishing a port, Antarctica may seem to be a stay-away area. Establishing a port will allow launching into an orbit with a gradient that will either be greater or equal to your latitude. Any place close to the equator will provide the best spot for launching.
Normally, when a ship is released into orbit, it is supposed to spin at high speed to avoid being pulled back by gravity from the earth. The spinning of the earth helps this ship to attain escape velocity. A ship released from the equator will maintain its speed as it was before launching. This is the speed that will come in handy to keep a ship within the orbit. Navigation reports that the land lying at the equator moves at a higher speed than any other part. At that speed of 1670 kilometers per hour, a spacecraft will automatically gain a momentum of 500 kilometers per hour.
The weather is another concern when planning a launch. It is always safe to launch when the sky is clear, and the winds are still. Having the light wind at a time of take-off is acceptable, but it becomes dangerous when it goes beyond 30mph at a tower level of 162 feet. A high-velocity wind can push a spaceship out of its lane. The continent of Antarctica is reported to be cold, dry, and with extremely high-velocity wind. Antarctica’s strong winds, Katabatics, can go up to 200 mph, which will be fatal to spaceships.
The Space Shuttle, known as Challenger, was lost due to poor weather conditions on the 28th day of January in 1986. Seven crew members, Christa McAuliffe, Ellison Onizuka, Francis R. Scobee, Judith Resnik, Michael J Smith, Gregory Jarvis, and Ronald McNair, died. System failure is captured to be a result of strong winds that led to cold temperatures.
Antarctica can be the best place to do your research, but developing a spaceport will be challenging. The entire setup of this area is against a spaceship’s requirements for launching. Challenger experienced the worst due to weather changes, one which is shown in the continent of Antarctica. Space research and actions are very delicate matters that should be handled with extreme care before execution.