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Spaceports (Terra Futura)

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Spaceports were centralized transport hubs for space vehicles. They were one step ahead of conventional airports.

Background

Early airports were grassy fields. Planes used navigation by landmarks. Then, in 1922, the first mid-air collision occurred in France. This led to the development of the first air traffic control system. This system which used radio beacons was first deployed at Croydon Airport in London which was on the route the two planes were taking when they collided. As passenger planes became more common, the passengers felt uncomfortable. During the 1920s, Gatwick Airport, also in London, built the first modern terminal. It was a beehive shape. As the jetliner was entering service, the runways could not cope with the heavier planes. One of the first jet age airports, O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, used a concrete that was strong enough to hold jets. Meanwhile, as terminals got bigger, it took a longer time to walk. In 1958, Dallas Love Field introduced the moving walkway which made walking through airports. But new problems emerged, airplanes started being hijacked or destroyed. Atlanta International Airport was the first airport to deploy the metal detector. Another problem was cargo. This was solved by the barcode. Later, cargo handling became more automated at Denver International Airport which resulted in a mess. After 9/11, airport security became even more important. Only ticketed passengers were allowed in the gate area. When London Heathrow Terminal 5 opened in 2008, it created a new airport design that made people less disoriented. Terminal 5 was only one room. At the same time, Southwest Airlines abolished assigned seats, thus making air travel faster. The next step was to commission spaceports.

Description

There were four kinds of spaceports: land-based spaceports, oceanic spaceports, orbital spaceports, and starports.

Land-based Spaceports

Tech Level: 10

Spaceports had been used for launching spacecraft since the 1960s. However, the first commercial spaceport was Spaceport America in New Mexico. This was followed by Spaceport Sweden in Kiruna-Giron, Sweden. Both were built to accomodate a new age of passenger space travel. Other spaceports had also been commercial airports. They were built in remote areas to avoid disasters. Roads and railways were built to connect the spaceports to major cities. They also had protection from attack. During the mid-21st century, spaceports left the land and went to sea.

Oceanic Spaceports

Tech Level: 11

In 1998, Hong Kong International Airport was built on the coast of Hong Kong. Many years later, during the mid-21st century, spaceports were being built in the deep ocean. These oceanic spaceports took advantage of weather patterns. They also took advantage of water berthing which was becoming increasingly common. Some oceanic spaceports were built in areas where there was no continental landmass. Many were also completely submersible, only surfacing to launch spacecraft. In the late 21st century, the development of the space elevator led to the creation of orbital spaceports.

Orbital Spaceports

Tech Level: 12

Orbital spaceports were spaceports in orbit around a planet. Some were space stations. Others were space colonies. There were many advantages to this. Orbital spaceships could handle spaceships that could not land on a planet. These spaceports also got a lot of power from the sun. Fuel and other consummables could be transported from the Moon and other places. They also had extensive quarantine facilities in case of trouble. The orbital spaceport could handle space craft so well, that they were for handling starships. The starport was born.

Starports

Tech Level: 13

At the beginning of the 22nd century, many spaceports on land, at sea, and in space were cnverted into starports. They could now handle starships. This was important as faster-than-light space travel made space travel cheaper. New starports were built throughout the Milky Way Galaxy as time went on. Space travel was now common place.

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