For the tourist attraction, see Spaceport (Seacombe).
File:Baikonur Cosmodrome Soyuz launch pad.jpg
A =Temporal Transit Spaceports=

Transit Worlds

Transit Worlds;also known as Gateway Worlds,or Gate Worlds,are any planet,space station,world ships ,moon ships or dyson sphere were a We otherwords known as a temporal or time tunnel wormhole transit point is location.Transit Worlds are also used as major communication arrays-relay points where many worlds can transmit sub space communications through -as long as either side of the time gate is not closed,shut down or thus damaged in some way.

A Temporal Transit Spaceports are a site for launching (or receiving) spacecraft, by analogy with seaport for ships or airport for aircraft through Stargate Clusters.  A spaceport or cosmodrome (Template:Lang-ru, kosmodrom) is a site for launching (or receiving) spacecraft, by analogy with seaport for ships or airport for aircraft.  The word spaceport, and even more so cosmodrome, has traditionally been used for sites capable of launching spacecraft into orbit around Earth or on interplanetary trajectories. However, rocket launch sites for purely sub-orbital flights are sometimes called spaceports, as in recent years new and proposed sites for suborbital human flights have been frequently referred to or named 'spaceports'. Space stations and proposed future bases on the moon are sometimes called spaceports, in particular if intended as a base for further journeys.[1]     The term rocket launch site is used for any facility from which rockets are launched. It may contain one or more launch pads or suitable sites to mount a transportable launch pad. It is typically surrounded by a large safety area, often called a rocket range or missile range. The range includes the area over which launched rockets are expected to fly, and within which some components of the rockets may land. Tracking stations are sometimes located in the range to assess the progress of the launches.[2] Major spaceports often include more than one launch complex, which can be rocket launch sites adapted for different types of launch vehicles. (These sites can be well-separated for safety reasons.) For launch vehicles with liquid propellant, suitable storage facilities and, in some cases, production facilities are necessary. On-site processing facilities for solid propellants are also common. A spaceport may also include runways for takeoff and landing of aircraft to support spaceport operations, or to enable support of HTHL or HTVL winged launch vehicles.  



A spaceport is a way to increase the volume of interplanetary or intersellar transport. They can be locate inside space stations but the focus here is on planetary ground stations. Often you will find both, with a planetary "LowPort" associated with an orbital "HighPort". If the station services starships, it is often called a "starport".

Their primary function is to do whatever is necessary to make it easier for spacecraft to bring cargo and/or passengers. They may be located at an economically worthless site which happens to be at a strategic location (cross-roads or junction). Or the site itself could be of economic interest. Please note that increasing the volume of transport does not necessarily mean all transport. A spaceport created by a large corporation might facilitate transport spacecraft belonging to that corporation, but charge large fees and otherwise put roadblocks in the way of ships belonging to other corporations or to independent ships.

Note that the concept of a "junction" really only works with some kind of handwaving faster-than-light starship. Junctions make no sense in a star system where the various planets orbit at different rates. The arrangement of planets is constantly changing.

As with spacecraft and space stations, in a science fiction story a spaceport can become a character all by themselves. The obvious example is the great hive of scum and villainy which is Mos Eisley spaceport.

A good sourcebook for science fictional spaceports is the worldbook GURPS Traveller: Starports

One of the major constraints on spaceport design is the danger level of the spacecraft propulsion systems. It isn't so bad if the spacecraft is actually parked in orbit with the cargo being ferried down in winged space shuttles. It becomes more of a concern if the spacecraft are chemically powered tail-landers. And things get very dangerous if the spacecraft are nuclear powered. If the spacecraft is antimatter powered it probably is not going to be allowed anywhere near a planet, much less land on it.

The danger level of the spacecraft using the port will also influence how far away from cities and major populated areas the spaceport is located. Nuclear powered spacecraft will mandate that the potential footprint of the fallout plume goes through only barren and uninhabited areas.

If the spacecraft are strictly orbit-to-orbit craft that never land on a planet the spaceport will only handle surface-to-orbit ferry ships. It might also have a more massive installation, such as a Space Elevator, a Lofstrom loop, a Laser Launcher, or a Bifrost Bridge.

Spaceports are also likely to have extensive medical facilities with special equipment for treating burn victims (survivors of crashed chemically fueled rockets) or radiation exposure victims (survivors of crashed nuclear fueled rockets), or both. If the spaceport services starships from alien ecosystems, there will be quarantine facilities as well.

If the spaceport is located inside a sovereign nation, the grounds of the port might be legally still territorially part of the nation. But parts of the port could be designated as customs areas and surrouned by a customs border.

In addition, the grounds of the port might be considered "extraterritorial": legally not territorially part of the nation, much like the grounds of a foreign embassy. This is usually seen when the planetary government is part of a larger intersellar Federation or Union. The planetary government might still be self-governing, but the spaceport grounds are legally the territory of the all-powerful Federation. So respect their borders or the planetary government might no longer be self-governing.

Sometimes, in a effort to encourage economic development, a spaceport can be a free trade zone.

Of course if the planet has an oppressive government and is full of people eager to flee, the spaceport is likely to be surrounded by the futuristic equivalent of the Berlin Wall, complete with barbed-wire, machine gun nests, spotlights, and ferocious guard dogs. The guns will be pointed outward away from the port, instead of pointed inward at the port.

Spaceports located near an impending war zone could start to resemble Casablanca. Spaceports that are Pirate Haven might resemble the fictitious depictions of the pirate stronghold of Tortuga or Port Royal. The difference is that Tortuga was pro-pirate while Port Royal was officially anti-pirate but unofficially it would look the other way and ask no embarrassing questions in exchange for part of the ill-gotten gains.

Also keep in mind that if a planet is invaded, the spaceports are prime targets. If the port can be captured, it will can be used to land large numbers of invading ground troops. The planet knows this as well, if it is worred about invasion the spaceports will also be minor or major planetary fortresses.

If there is a planetary disaster, spaceports will suddenly be thrust into the role of operational center. After all, it will be the source of off-planet support.

If the planetary spaceport is located on a habitable planet, the port does not have to worry about the Three Generation Rule like space stations do. Otherwise the planetary spaceport is in the same boat.

Spaceports can vary in size, from a one-ship landing pad (that is basically a bulldozed square of dirt) with a hut for an office, to a titanic metroplex the size of Rhode Island. In older science fiction Terra's largest starport is always located in New York City, even though it makes more sense to locate a port on the equator for delta V reasons.

Some spaceports are oriented more towards handling cargo, others more for passenger service.

Image courtesy of SpaceX

When a ship is landed, and still manned, the central control is generally shifted from the control or flight deck to another part of the ship, called a quarterdeck. In a merchant spacecraft, this will probably be somewhere in the cargo hold. The watch officer and their staff will be found in the quarterdeck.

In "wet navy" ships, the quarterdeck is merely the area just inboard of the crew hatch, where visitors are received aboard.

Space transport system from the game FTL: 2448 by Tri Tac Games

They had taken Moses Callahan's ship and turned it into paper.

A man lived on his ship. He breathed her air, ate and drank from her stores. Her bulkheads solid around him kept the uncaring vacuum outside where it belonged and her driving engines bent the very curvature of space to take him wherever he wanted to go.

But then he had to land. . . .

Suddenly all that breathing and eating became a life-support replenishment invoice. Those protecting bulkheads hid structural support members that had to be inspected and recertified by a licensed and commensurately expensive naval surveyor. Engines became fuel costs and a ten-thousand-hour service charge. Then there were berth fees, entry fees, value-added tax on cargo transactions, customs "courtesy" fees, outright bribes to the longshoremen's union—and Moses Callahan wound up sitting in the deepest corner of the Hybreasil inport bar complex, wondering whether to have another beer or have his good uniform cleaned and pressed before heading outport to try to unearth a cargo Celtic Crescent or Western Galactic might have overlooked.

From The Shattered Stars by Richard McEnroe, 1983

Spaceport Management

Spaceport policies are set by the port owner. The port might be a lonely trading post owned by a merchant or merchant corporation. It could be a transport nexus owned by a huge corporation. It could be owned by the government of the planet or nation the spaceport is located in. It could be owned by an interstellar federation that the spaceport planet and planetary government are a part of. There are lots of possibilites.

As previously mentioned, the point of a spaceport is to make it easier for spacecraft to travel to the site. But that does not mean all spacecraft.

If the port is owned by PlanetGobbler Incorporated, the port will be a free trade zone to PlanGobInc company ships and those ships will be given all due assistance. By the same token, any ships belonging to World Exploiters Ltd. or StarTruckCo will find their lives made into a living hell by the spaceport's excessive fees, obstructionism, unfree trade zone status, punitive tariffs, endless safety inspections, and general nastiness. This would also apply to a neutral ship which is carrying a rival corporation's products as cargo.

And may the Great Bird of the Galaxy have mercy on your soul if you are the owner of an independent ship, you might even be denied permission to land! Corporations hate independent free traders.

If the port is owned by the local government, and said government wants to put pressure on Planet Z, magically any ships from or heading to Planet Z will suddenly be plagued by zillions of unofficial obstructions. Being moved to the end of the line, cargo inspections that "accidentally" damage the cargo, crew harassment, that sort of thing.

Spaceports are funded by several revenue streams. Most ports operate at a deficit, rarely making a profit.

Most of the money is a subsidy from the port owner, be it government or corporation.

Spaceports charge berthing fees to spacecraft for the privilege of landing. They also charge rental fees for the landing pad on a daily or monthly basis. Sometimes if a spacecraft owner cannot afford the berthing fee, the spaceport's cargo broker will accept spacecraft's cargo in payment.

Spaceports obtain revenue by charging for any spaceport-owned port services used by visiting spacecraft.

Finally spaceports also obtain by renting land to "concessions" (private companies offering port services used by visiting spacecraft). The rent can be a flat monthly fee, or a flat fee plus a percentage of the concession's gross income. If the concession discovers that business is not as good as expected they will complain to the spaceport that the rent should be lowered. If ship traffic increases, with a corresponding increase in concession income, the greedy spaceport might want to raise the rent or convert a flat rent into "rent plus percentage". Spaceports will become angry with concessions on "rent plus percentage" who deliberately under-report income to cheat the spaceport. And spaceports have to worry about concessions who mistreat customers, this will also adversely affect the spaceport's reputation. Concessions can be evicted if it can be shown that they are in violation of their contract.

Spacecraft crashes

A spacecraft "augering in" is a disaster ranging from the merely disastrous to the utterly catastrophic.

There are many factors.

Did the ship just bend a landing leg, did it topple over, did it land on its belly but didn't snap its spine, did it hit hard enough to become debris strewn over a wide area, did it hit hard enough to make a smoking crater?

Is the propulsion system or power plant (in rough order of calamity) flammable chemicals, flammable toxic chemicals, flammable toxic chemicals that can melt human flesh, metastable helium, solid core nuclear, liquid core nuclear, gas core nuclear closed-cycle, gas core nuclear open-cycle, nuclear salt water rocket, or pure antimatter?

Did it hit any already grounded spacecraft, perhaps causing a chain reaction? Did it hit the spaceport landing pad, or did it hit a city?

And if the spacecraft is constructed out of titanium or magnesium and it catches on fire, whatever you do don't try to put it out with water!

Some of these hazards can be dealt with. Spaceports will probably be located at a distance from any populated area, with the distance proportional to the energy contained in a given spacecraft (the bigger the boom the farther the distance). Propulsion systems that are too powerful probably will not be allowed to land at all. Instead they will be put into parking orbits and cargo/passengers brought to the spaceport in winged space shuttles and ferrys. Landed spacecraft will be separated at distances to minimize chain reactions. Weather patterns will be plotted so that the footprint of any plume of toxic gas or radioactive fallout will only go through barren and uninhabited areas.

For safety reasons, the landing field might only share its location with the emergency spacecraft services and maybe limited refueling. The other functions would be located at a distance hopefully outside the blast radius.

If the distance between the spaceport and the nearest metropolitan area is large, there will probably be some kind of mass-transit service connecting the two. The Star-town would probably be in between the spaceport and the city (Star-town wants to be far away from the explosion, the city wants the nasty Star-Town red-light district far away from it).

Artwork by Ed Valigursky (1959)

Spaceports that expect the patronage of large numbers of crash-prone captains might want to invest in slightly sturdier landing control rooms. Say, underground with half-meter thick armored fire and radiation-proof walls...

Note helpful white arc painted on floor outlining the "no standing" area. Image courtesy of X-ray Delta One.

Medical facilities might also come in handy. Especially a burn center. From Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Artwork by Ed Emshwiller for Startling Stories summer 1954

Artwork by Mel Hunter

Spaceport Functions

This is more or less a subset of space station functions. Many are from Star Hero by James Cambias, othere are from GURPS Traveller: Starports, the rest I made up myself or discovered in Wikipedia.

Note that some services are owned by the spaceport authority itself, but similar services can be offered by private companies who rent space on the spaceport grounds. The latter are called "concessions".


Forward base to support spacecraft. Sometimes called "staging base" if military. Generally located in a "remote" location, remote being defined as "a long distance from the home base of the supported spacecraft." (e.g., a military base can be "remote" even if it is near a huge metropolitan planet belonging to a hostile nation).

Brokerage Offices

Cargo brokers are in the business of connecting cargo buyers with cargo sellers. Ship brokers are in the business of connecting owners of cargo transport spacecraft and charterers who have cargo which needs transporting. The brokers collect a commission on the sale. Technically the smugglers and black marketeers in Star-town are brokers as well, just not with offices and charging high commissions in return for not asking any embarassing questions.

Boom towns

A "gold" strike on a planet or the establishment of a military base in a remote location may create a "boom town". The sudden appearance of large numbers of miners or enlisted people is an economic opportunity to sell them whiskey, adult entertainment, and other hard to find luxuries at inflated prices. Not to mention supplies and tools. Remember, in the California Gold Rush of 1849, it was not the miners who grew rich, instead it was the merchants who sold supplies to the miners. Civilian entrepreneurs may find it expedient to stablize part of the ground to make an impromptu landing field. But remember that boom towns can become ghost towns quite rapidly.

Bonded Warehouses

A bonded warehouse is a building or other secured area in which dutiable goods may be stored, manipulated, or undergo manufacturing operations without payment of duty. Always located inside the customs border section of the spaceport.


A chandlery sells ship stores and provisions. Life-support recharges, power plant fuel, spare parts, hydroponic seeds, medical supplies, carniculture starters, ship's cats, items for the slop chest, and anything else a spacecraft needs for a mission.

Customs/Immigration Authorities

If the spaceport is in a sovereign nation, chances are it will have customs and immigration agents controlling the flow of goods and people into and out of the nation, specifically entering or leaving the customs border section of the spaceport. If the nation's custom laws are strict, the customs border will prbably be surrounded by heavy fences and armed guards. Some goods are subject to duties, tariffs, and taxes, other goods are restricted or prohibited.

Emergency Spacecraft Services

Emergency crews and equipment to deal with spacecraft that crash, topple over, have reactor criticality accidents, radiation leaks, and other disasters.


This means that if the spaceport is located inside the bounds of a sovereign nation, legally the grounds of the spaceport are not part of the nation. Sort of like the grounds of a foreign embassy. The edge of the spaceport is the Extraterritorial Line or "x-t line". This generally only happens if the spaceport is controlled by a huge and powerful Federation or Union which the planet is a member of. I say only occurs if the planet is part of a "federation or union". If the planet is part of a coalition or confederation, it will not allow extraterritoriality. If the planet is part of a federation or union, it would do well to respect the extraterritoriality of the port or it might suddenly find itself to be a part of a suzerainty. If the planet is part of a suzerainty or empire, it is a slave not a sovereign nation, so it has no say in the matter. As a side note, if the planetary nation is oppressing its citizens, it will probably have a futuristic version of the Berlin Wall immediately outside the x-t line to prevent citizens from escaping into the freedom of the spaceport. Any planetary local crossing the x-t line and seeking asylum will present a delicate problem to the port authority.

Free Trade Zone

A free trade zone is a geographic area where goods may be landed, handled, manufactured or reconfigured, and reexported without the intervention of the customs authorities. The custom duties are only imposed once the goods cross the customs border. This means that the sovereign nation (if any) that the spaceport is located inside cannot interfere at all with any goods that are transshipped through the port (i.e., just passing through). Spaceports owned by large corporations might be free trade zones for corporate ships, but nasty unfree trade zones for the corporation's competitors or anybody else.

Hazardous Cargo Handling

Specialized equipment to safely handle hazardous cargo. Generally only seen on a military spaceport in order to handle weapons and ammunition (sometimes nuclear). But it can be found in a commercial spaceport that regularly handles toxic, unstable, pathological, explosive, or radioactive cargo. "Hot stuff". The equipment also includes specialized hazmat warehouses for safe storage.

Hiring Hall

Employment services where spacecraft captains can hire crewmembers. This can range from an internet bulletin board to a large complex including interview offices and inexpensive (or free) hostels for crewmembers down on their luck.


Can be general hospitals or hospitals specializing in treating victims of spacecraft disasters. This includes treating shock-trauma, burns, and radiation poisoning. In small outpost spaceports, this might consist of a first aid box. A large hospital will also have some kind of ambulance. Hospitals must be vigilant to detect signs of pandemic diseases in incoming passengers or crew, such patients must be immediately quarantined.


Short or long term living quarters for people, with quality varying from four-star hotels down to spartan capsule hostels. Generally includes restaurants of various quality.

Landing field

Large stablized field strong enough for spacecraft to land and blast off from. The sine qua non of a spaceport.


Longshoremen are people and/or robots for hire to load or unload spacecraft cargo.

Maintenance and Repair

Spacecraft service shops handling scheduled maintenance, and repair yards repairing damaged ships. May include mobile crains to deal with spacecraft that have toppled over. The facilities may be of varying levels of ability, analogous to the difference between a maw-and-paw automobile gasoline station in a sleepy backwoods town and a huge full-service automobile service shop in the big city.


Stores that sell uniforms, specialized clothing and gear to spacecraft crews.

Pirate Haven

Space pirates need infrastructure (fences for pirated loot, fuel and reaction mass, ship repairs, R&R for the crew). A hidden planetary spaceport can act as a Pirate Haven and cater to these needs.

Planetary Defense

Armed military station defending its planet from outside attack, planetary fortress. If the planet is a conquered one, or the government is oppressing the inhabitants, the station will try to maintain government control and deal with revolts. Also note that if the spaceport is non-military but it is a laser-launch site it is fuctionally equivalent to a planetary fortress. It can hurl projectiles and use laser beams directly at any invading spacecraft.

Power Services

For a fee, landed spacecraft can plug into the spaceport's power grid in order to avoid using fuel for the ship's internal power supply.

Refueling and Re-propellanting

Fuel and propellant depot. Refining and storage facility


Scientific research. Generally to investigate something interesting about the planet the spaceport is on.

Sanitary Services

For a fee, they will empty the spacecraft's septic tank, and connect the ship's sewage system to the starport's. Not really needed if the spacecraft has a closed ecological life support system.

Security Force

The Port Cops. They handle most criminal activity, SWAT-like special forces will deal with emergencies like terrorists and hijacking. The special forces will be trained to try and limit casualties and collateral damage. The local military forces will be called in for anything more major. They will also deploy to cover a spacecraft landing with a distress call, just in case this turns out to be another attempt at the old "Trojan Spacecraft" routine. They also know all about the old "fake medical emergency" gag, port cops will be stationed in the port hospital. The port cops will have their work cut out for them if the nation the port is sited on has been corrupted by the local criminal underworld. The criminal element in Star-Town will be trying to infiltrate the port, and the local police will not be interested in arresting or prosecuting them.

Ship Docks

Short or long term storage of spacecraft. They will often have heavy equipment designed to drag spacecraft from one location to another. No sense for a ship in long term storage to block a landing pad.


Shipyards are industrial sites that construct new ships. They have blueprints in hand for standard spacecraft, or custom spacecraft can be created for an additional fee.

Space Traffic Controllers

Outer space equivalent of terrestrial air traffic controllers. Monitors and controls the flight plans of local spacecraft. Assigns landing pads and lift-off windows. As with terrestrial air traffic controllers, a pilot ignoring traffic control is a very serious offence.


A thick border around the spaceport composed of bars, tourist traps, casinos and bordellos preying upon naive tourists and spacecraft crew members with flight pay burning a hole in their pockets. Usually forms just outside the spaceport's Extraterritorial Line, if any.

Surface to Orbit services

Services for hire to boost payload into low orbit. There are a variety of options, including Laser Launchers, Bifrost Bridges, Lofstrom loop, and Space Elevators.

Trading Post

A trading post or "factory" is where a merchant (or the merchant's factor) carries on the merchant's business on a foreign planet. The trading post exchanges imported trade items for valuable local goods. In some cases a trading post and a couple of warehouses can grow into an actual colony. The trading post merchant or factor is responsible for the local goods logistics (proper storage and shipping), assesing and packaging for spacecraft transport. The factor is the representative for the merchant in all matters, reporting everything to the merchant headquarters. The longer the communication time delay between trading post and headquarters, the more trustworthy the factor has to be. Factors may work with native contract suppliers, called a comprador.

Transport Nexus

A Transport Nexus is a crossroad spaceport for passengers, a port of entry, an orbital warehouses where valuable minerals from asteroid mines are stored and trade goods transshipped, or a "trade-town". Will include related services, such as bonded warehouses, trading posts, hotels and longshoremen.

Used Spacecraft Yard

Honest Duquesne's lightly used spacecraft! This little vehicle was used by a little old astronaut who only took it out on lunar hops. Twenty percent down and the rest in easy installments.


Unlike bonded warehouses, these are not located inside the customs border section of the spaceport. Always guarded on general principle because there is expensive stuff stored inside. It may include connections to the local power grid for cargo that requires refrigeration.

Naturally a given spaceport could have several functions. And I'm sure you can think of other functions I've missed. Just think about passenger airports and ocean cargo ports for some ideas.

Ship Docks

Yes, I think it is hilariously ridiculous as well.

Ship docks are for short or long term storage of spacecraft.

If spacecraft have to land on specially constructed landing pads, a spaceport might only have a limited number of them. If the ship is going to be on the planet for a while, the spaceport will want the ship moved off the pad and dragged to a dock for more permanent storage.

If spacecraft can land on a reasonably flat piece of ground or concrete, the spaceport will have virtually unlimited amounts of landing pads. In that case, the spaceport doesn't mind if a ship stays on its landing site for months and months, as long as the captain pays the pad rent.

At a spaceport, moving a landed ship to another site is tricky. The spacecraft's lateral jacks are extended so the tail of the ship is lifted off the landing apron. A crawler is then backed under the spacecraft, and the ship is lowered onto it. The "bottom handler" runs the crawler. The "top handler" rides in the control room of the spacecraft. Under each fin of the spacecraft is a hydraulic mercury capsule. The top handler keeps an unblinking eye on a bubble level gauge, and uses a joystick to control the mercury capsules. If the spacecraft starts to tip, the appropriate mercury capsules are pressurized to counteract the tip.

(ed note: the ships here are equipped with magic diamagnetic fields that allow them to hover and move slowly into their berths)

The "hangar" on Kalgan is an institution peculiar unto itself, born of the need for the disposition of the vast number of ships brought in by the visitors from abroad, and the simultaneous and consequent vast need for living accommodations for the same. The original bright one who had thought of the obvious solution had quickly become a millionaire. His heirs — by birth or finance — were easily among the richest on Kalgan.

The "hangar" spreads fatly over square miles of territory, and "hangar" does not describe it at all sufficiently. It is essentially a hotel — for ships. The traveler pays in advance and his ship is awarded a berth from which it can take off into space at any desired moment. The visitor then lives in his ship as always. The ordinary hotel services such as the replacement of food and medical supplies at special rates, simple servicing of the ship itself, special intra-Kalgan transportation for a nominal sum are to be had, of course.

As a result, the visitor combines hangar space and hotel bill into one, at a saving. The owners sell temporary use of ground space at ample profits. The government collects huge taxes. Everyone has fun. Nobody loses. Simple!

The man who made his way down the shadow-borders of the wide corridors that connected the multitudinous wings of the "hangar" had in the past speculated on the novelty and usefulness of the system described above, but these were reflections for idle moments — distinctly unsuitable at present.

The ships hulked in their height and breadth down the long lines of carefully aligned cells, and the man discarded line after line. He was an expert at what he was doing now and if his preliminary study of the hangar registry had failed to give specific information beyond the doubtful indication of a specific wing — one containing hundreds of ships — his specialized knowledge could winnow those hundreds into one.

There was the ghost of a sigh in the silence, as the man stopped and faded down one of the lines; a crawling insect beneath the notice of the arrogant metal monsters that rested there.

Here and there the sparkling of light from a porthole would indicate the presence of an early returner from the organized pleasures to simpler — or more private — pleasures of his own.

From Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov, 1952


However, there will spring up a "star-town", i.e., a thick border around the starport composed of bars, tourist traps, restaurants, casinos and bordellos meant to painlessly separate starship crew members from their flight pay. Plus a few pawn shops where crew members can get extra cash by hocking their equipment, personal items, and/or alien curios they acquired during their travels. Not to mention smugglers and black marketeers, who are buying and selling contraband goods and illegal transport services. Smuggling also applies to fugitives attempting to escape off-world. Look, over in the corner, is that Obi-Wan Kenobi negotiating with Han Solo? Star-town will also have "flop-houses" which are cheaper than the capsule motels but much more disgusting. There are charity soup-kitchens as well.

The darker sections of star-town are dangerous, much like any benighted urban area. Tourists enter at their own peril. There are predators who will rob you at gun-point, pick-pockets, con artists and related criminals.

(ed note: "Cr" is the symbol for "credit", the unit of currency in the Traveller RPG.)


This is the area of a starport city located just outside the port's extraterritorial boundary fence. Like the waterfronts of old, startowns cater to the needs and desires of starship crew members, port workers, and petty criminals.

Startown is sleazy and rundown; it's considered to be the worst district of the spaceport city. Cheap taverns, brothels, hotels, and gambling halls abound, wedged in among warehouses, the local ship's crew hiring hall, cargo brokers' offices, ship suppliers, passenger agent's offices, and the central cargo exchange. The city police usually maintain a large station in startown. Military units (regular and mercenary) and navel units garrisoned nearby also have police and shore patrols constantly roaming the area. Nonetheless, law enforcement authorities are overworked an startown, and overlook all but the most serious of infractions. They are also underpaid and susceptible to bribes.


The central city is the retail and business district common to most starport cities. Located at some distance from the starport, it is reachable by public transportation such as a monorail system, air or ground taxis, or other such systems, depending on local tech level and geographical conditions. Here are located the best hotels, restaurants, and stores as well as bars and night clubs. Trade related businesses such as shipping lines and import/export firms maintain offices here too. Local laws are more rigidly enforced in the central city and a higher standard of conduct and and manners is expected here than in other areas.

Accordingly, starship crews do not regularly venture into the central business district. However, ship captains. senior merchants, naval and military officers, and ship owners may enter the central city on business or seeking better lodgings, food, and entertainment than can be found elsewhere in the city. Usually, food and accommodations that would fall in the "high living" category citizens who are acquainted with or who do business with starship captains, such as cargo brokers and exporters, frequently entertain their clients at the private gaming and dining clubs located here.

Ship's crewmembers, soldiers on liberty, and adventurers will generally seek the same things when looking for rest and recreation on virtually any world. These include a place to sleep. some good meals, relaxing refreshments. and companionship generally of the opposite sex. A good gambling game is often sought, also.


After a week of ship's food that ranges from fairly good to nearly inedible in quality, the average crewmember on liberty is hungry for a good meal. So is a mercenary who has been living on field rations, not to mention the adventurer fresh in from the bush.

As noted in book 3, ordinary meals can be purchased for Cr10, excellent meals for from Cr20 to 50.

Ordinary meals are easily found in the cafes of startown and in the cafeterias and snack shops in the central city.

For better food, characters must take the trouble to go to the central city. Here they will find the best restaurants, however, they might not get in. Most restaurants in this part of town follow a strict code of dress and decorum with most maitres'd frowning on starship jumpsuits or camouflage battle fatigues in their establishments. Even the garish clothes sold by startown tailors won't fool the keepers of the velvet rope. Characters with a social standing of 7 or less will generally not be admitted, and in any case, tables must be reserved in advance in the best places

Cities adjacent to star ports are where the best and most diverse restaurants on a planet will usually be found. This is because these restaurants have the easiest access to imported foodstuffs, and the constant traffic of off-worlders through the starport creates a demand for many varied and exotic styles of cooking.

Agricultural worlds will have the most abundant, least expensive, and highest quality food. Industrial worlds and poor worlds are likely to feature protein concentrates grown in yeast vats as the daily staple. Natural foods are likely to be imported, and will always be very expensive, with a natural food meal costing Cr50 or more. Natural foods here means any food; derived from plants or animals as opposed to synthetic foods grown in vats from yeast, petroleum or similar substances.


Alcoholic beverages are easily available and legal on most worlds except for worlds or regions ruled by theocratic dictatorships. Drunk and disorderly characters are subject to arrest according to the planet's law level. Local police on high law level worlds are more likely to make tavern checks as well.

The cost of alcoholic beverages varies widely depending on type and quality. For instance, a shot and a beer can be had in a startown bar for Cr0.75 to Cr1, A beer alone would run from Cr0.5 to Cr1.5 depending on quality and location of purchase. A good bottle of wine could range from Cr5 to Cr20 for local vintage; while the rare Terran wines cost ten times as much or more per bottle, if available. A rare Terran varietal or appellation d'origine contrôlée wine would cost thousands of credits per case. (A single bottle of vintage 1022 Hospice du Beune sold for Cr7000 in an old wine auction on Capital recently, and a bottle of Tokaj escenzia was sold on the black market for Cr12,000,000.)

Alcoholic beverages are cheapest on agricultural worlds where in many cases they are produced from surplus crops. They are most expensive on industrial worlds, especially sub-Terran and non-Terran worlds where they must be imported. Generally, governments find alcohol a lucrative revenue source and tax it heavily. Illegal distillation and sale of alcohol is a common occupation on many worlds, High quality beverages are likewise favorite commodities for smuggling. Import duties of 10 to 20 percent are not uncommon far alcohol unloaded at starports throughout the Imperium.


Star town is a rough neighborhood where many a liberty has been ruined by crimes committed against crewmembers and other adventurers. Mugging by thugs is a fairly common occurance which often shows up on the random encounter table of book 3. Also, visiting spacehands are the favorite targets of many thieves.

Characters may have their belongings stolen from dirtside hotel rooms, from have their pockets picked, or be "rolled" while engaged with a professional companion.

Shanghaiing is the ultimate danger starship crewmembers and other adventurers face in and around the bars and joyhouses of startown. if 12 exactly is rolled on the 2D crime roll, a non-player will invite an adventurer to drink with him. The drink will be drugged, rendering the adventurer unconscious. The adventurer will awaken 24 hours later, trussed up aboard a starship (8+ for it to be a pirate vessel) bound for parts unknown,

If 9+ is rolled on the crime roll, the adventurer is robbed of all his cash plus other valuables on his person. The circumstances of the theft and the objects stolen should be determined by the referee according to circumstances, but they should be a logical part of the character's activities. For example, a character on a drinking spree could be robbed while unconscious in an alley near the tavern. If he or she is on a crowded street downtown, his or her pocket may be picked. If engaged with a professional companion, his or her wallet might be lifted while he the player is otherwise distracted.

The referee should roll for theft only once during the week the character's ship is in port unless the character is unusually stupid (intelligence 5 or less). Then roll twice to simulate lack of care and foresight.

From R & R by Terry McInnes in The Journal of the Travellers' Aid Society No. 7 (1981)

Star Street was not so much a place as a name. It was the name that starmen invariably gave to whatever street near a spaceport afforded fun and comfort. The Star Street of Vhol was not too much different from many others that Dilullo had walked.

It had lights and music and drink and food and women. It was a gusty, crowded place but it was not sinful, for most of these people ... did not know they were sinning at all. Dilullo did not have an easy time keeping his men with him as he looked for an inn.

A buxom woman with pale green skin and flashing eyes hailed him from the open front of her establishment, where girls of different hues and at least three different shapes preened themselves.

"The ninety-nine joys dwell here, oh Earthmen! Enter!"

Dilullo shook his head. "Not I, mother. I crave the hundredth joy."

"And what is the hundredth joy?"

Dilullo answered sourly. "The joy of sitting down quietly and reading a good book."

Rutledge broke up laughing, beside him, and the woman started to screech curses in galacto.

"Old!" she cried. "Old withered husk of an Earthman! Totter on your way, ancient one!"

Dilullo shrugged as her maledictions followed them down the noisy street. "I don't know but what she's right. I'm feeling fairly old, and not very bright."

He found an inn that looked clean enough and bargained for rooms. The big common room was shadowy and empty, the inn's patrons having apparently gone forth to sample the happiness Dilullo had rejected. He sat down with the others and called for a Vhollan brandy, and then turned to Rutledge.

From The Weapon From Beyond by Edmond Hamilton (1965)

They went to the address the driver had given them, in Old Town under the original bubble. I gathered that it was the sort of jungle every port has had since the Phoenicians sailed through the shoulder of Africa, a place of released transportees, prostitutes, monkey-pushers (drug dealers), rangees, and other dregs -- a neighborhood where policemen travel only in pairs.

From DOUBLE STAR by Robert Heinlein, 1956

The sailor at the Norbert IV’s boarding hatch pointed to a row of low prefab buildings 300 meters in from where the vessel had landed. The freighter’s leave party—the whole crew except for a two-man anchor watch—had already stumped most of the distance over the blasted ground. The crewmen carried only AWOL bags, while the disembarking passengers had much more substantial luggage.

“There’s the terminal,” the sailor said. “The left one’s Marvelan entry requirements. If there’s nobody home, go to passenger operations beside it. Pilar’ll be there, no fear.”

Cantilucca’s starport was a square kilometer bulldozed from the forest and roughly leveled. The earth had been compressed and stabilized.

There hadn’t been a great deal of maintenance in the century or so since the port was cleared. Slabs of surface had tilted in a number of places, exposing untreated soil on which vegetation could sprout. The jets of starships landing and taking off limited the size of the shrubbery, at least in the portion nearer the terminal buildings.

“Is the city far?” Johann Vierziger asked. His voice was calm and melodious, but his eyes never rested more than a second in one place. Watching him was like following a tiny, ravenous insectivore as it snuffled through the leaf mold.

“Two kilometers is all,” Pilar said. “The usual separation in case of a landing accident".

The town had no streetlights, but the ground floors and occasionally one or two of the higher stories were dazzles of direct and reflected enticement. Instead of having common walls, the buildings were set separately, sometimes behind a walled courtyard. Barkers doubling as armed guards stood outside business entrances, shouting to the traffic through bullhorns.

Pilar slowed the van to a crawl. The theoretical right-of-way was fifteen meters wide, but hawkers and shills narrowed the street, grabbing at pedestrians. Coke saw a trio of crewmen from the Norbert IV. The sailors stayed together as they crossed from one set of premises to the next. Though the men wore pistols openly, they looked more apprehensive than dangerous.

Banners, lighted signs, and occasionally nude women ... were displayed in second- and third-floor windows. There was always a screen of heavy wire mesh to prevent objects from being thrown in—or perhaps out. Music pumped from street-level doorways, different in style at every one; always distorted, always shatteringly loud.

Every major starport had a district like Potosi. The difference here was that Potosi appeared to have nothing else.

From THE SHARP END by David Drake, 1993

He had taken one of the cubicle steel rooms in the great steel lodging-houses the Martian government offers for a very nominal rent to transients. The original purpose was to house those motley hordes of spaceman that swarm every port city of the civilized planets, offering them accommodations cheap and satisfactory enough so that they will not seek the black byways of the town and there fall in with the denizens of the Martian underworld whose lawlessness is a byword among space sailors.

The great steeL building that housed Smith and countless others was not entirely free from the influences of Martian byways, and if the police had actually searched the place with any degree of thoroughness a large percentage of its dwellers might have been transferred to the Emperor’s prisons—Smith almost certainly among them, for his activities were rarely within the law and though he could not recall at the moment any particularly flagrant sins committed in Lalkdarol, a charge could certainly have been found against him by the most half-hearted searcher. However, the likelihood of a police raid was very remote, and Smith, as he went in under the steel portals of the great door, rubbed shoulders with smugglers and pirates and fugitives and sinners of all the sins that keep the spaceways thronged.

In his little cubicle he switched on the light and saw a dozen blurred replicas of himself, reflected dimly in the steel walls, spring into being with the sudden glow.

From The Scarlet Dream by C. L. Moore, 1934

The Starfall was a long way down scale from the pleasure houses of the upper town. Here strange vices were also merchandise, but not such exotics as Wass provided. This was strictly for crewmen of the star freighters who could be speedily and expertly separated from a voyage's pay in an evening. The tantalizing scents of Wass' terraces were reduced here to simply smells, the majority of which were not fragrant.

There had already been two fatal duels that evening. A tubeman from a rim ship had challenged a space miner to settle a difference with those vicious whips made from the tail casings of Flangoid flying lizards, an encounter which left both men in ribbons, one dead, one dying. And a scarred, ex-space marine had blaster-flamed one of the Star-and-Comet dealers into charred human ash.

The young man who had been ordered to help clear away the second loser retired to the stinking alley outside to lose the meal which was part of his meager day's pay. Now he crawled back inside, his face greenish, one hand pressed to his middle section.

He was thin, the fine bones of his face tight under the pallid skin, his ribs showing even through the sleazy fabric of the threadbare tunic with its house seal. When he leaned his head back against the grime encrusted wall, raising his face to the light, his hair had the glint of bright chestnut, a gold which was also red. And for his swamper's labor he was almost fastidiously clean.


He shivered as if an icy wind had found him and opened his eyes. They seemed disproportionately large in his skin and bone face and were of an odd shade, neither green nor blue, but somewhere between.

"Get going, you! Ain't paying out good credits for you to sit there like you was buying on your own!" The Salarkian who loomed above him spoke accentless, idiomatic Basic Space which came strangely from between his yellow lips. A furred hand thrust the handle of a mop-up stick at the young man, a taloned thumb jerked the direction in which to use that evil-smelling object. Vye Lansor levered himself up the wall, took the mop, setting his teeth grimly.

Someone had spilled a mug of Kardo and the deep purple liquid was already patterning the con-stone floor past any hope of cleaning. But he set to work slapping the fringe of the noisome mop back and forth to sop up what he could. The smell of the Kardo uniting with the general effluvia of the room and its inhabitants heightened his queasiness.

Working blindly in a half stupor, he was not aware of the man sitting alone in the booth until his mop spattered the ankle of one of the drinking girls. She struck him sharply across the face with a sputtering curse in the tongue of Altar-Ishtar.

The blow sent him back against the open lattice of the booth. As he tried to steady himself another hand reached up, fingers tightened about his wrist. He flinched, tried to jerk away from that hold, only to discover that he was the other's prisoner.

And looking down at his captor in apprehension, he was aware even then of the different quality of this man. The patron wore the tunic of a crewman, lighter patches where the ship's badges should have been to show that he was not engaged. But, though his tunic was shabby, dirty, his magnetic boots scuffed and badly worn, he was not like the others now enjoying the pleasures of the Starfall.

From Star Hunter by Andre Norton, 1961

Michael Andre-Driussi points out that the location of Star-town will depend upon how often spacecraft crash and how radioactive their exhaust is. Maybe Star-town will be at some distance from the actual landing site. Or it might be milder: with Star-town encircling the landing site, but with the low-rent district downwind in the footprint of the fallout zone. He also points out that the same factors will determine how far the spaceport itself is from any cities or other populated areas. Lots of crashes or landing pads that glow in the dark mean a spaceport in the middle of the desert or other barren wasteland. In that case, Star-town will be located approximately halfway between the starport and the nearest city, with regular mass-transit service to the port.

Radioactive fallout is typically in a long skinny plume pointing in the wind direction. So, for instance, if the wind generally blows to the south-east, the prime Star-Town locations would be north-west of the launch site, the upscale locations would be north and west, the average locations would be north-east and south-west, the ghetto would be at east and south, and the real bad part of town would be south-east.

Used Spacecraft Yard

Yep. A real beauty, ain't she? Yes, sir. A right smart purchase, this vessel. I tell you what, you buy this ship, treat her proper, she'll be with ya for the rest of your life. Son? Hey, son? You hear a word I been saying? 

from Firefly episode "Out of Gas"

Artwork by Hal Sherman. Illustration for Boy's Life serial Tramp Space Ship, which Heinlein expanded into The Rolling Stones

Artwork by Ed emshwiller

The sales office of the lot was a bubble dome nearly a mile away; they moved toward it with the easy, fast lope of old Moon hands. The office airlock was marked by a huge sign:





(AEC License No. 739024)

Shortly a bald-headed, portly man, dressed in a cigar and a wrinkled moonsuit, came out of the inner office and rested his hands on the rail. He looked them over shrewdly but his voice was jovial. "You wanted to see me?"

"You're the owner?" asked Castor.

"Dealer Dan Ekizian, the man himself. What's on your mind, boys? Time is money."

"Your secretary told you," Castor said ungraciously. "Spaceships."

Dealer Dan took his cigar out of his mouth and examined it. "Really? What would you boys want with a spaceship?"

Pollux muttered something; Castor said, "Do you usually do business out here?" He glanced at the girl.

Ekizian followed his glance. "My mistake. Come inside." He opened the gate for them, led them into his office, and seated them. He ceremoniously offered them cigars; the boys refused politely. "Now out with it, kids. Let's not joke."

Castor repeated, "Spaceships."

He pursed his lips. "A luxury liner, maybe? I haven't got one on the field at the moment but I can always broker a deal."

Pollux stood up. "He's making fun of us, Cas. Let's go see the Hungarian."

"Wait a moment, Pol. Mr. Ekizian, you've got a heap out there on the south side of the field, a class VII, model '93 Detroiter. What's your scrap metal price on her and what does she mass?"

The dealer looked surprised. "That sweet little job? Why, I couldn't afford to let that go as scrap. And anyhow, even at scrap that would come to a lot of money. If it is metal you boys want, I got it. Just tell me how much and what sort."

"We were talking about that Detroiter."

"Hmm . . . you're not looking for scrap; you want something to get around in. I've got just the job for you, a General Motors Jumpbug, practically new. It's been out on one grubstake job to a couple of thorium prospectors and I had to reclaim it. The hold ain't even radioactive."

"Not interested."

"Better look at it. Automatic landing and three hops takes you right around the equator. Just the thing for a couple of lively, active boys."

"About that Detroiter—what's your scrap price?"

Ekizian looked hurt. "That's a deepspace vessel, son—it's no use to you, as a ship. And I can't let it go for scrap; that's a clean job. It was a family yacht—never been pushed over six g, never had an emergency landing. It's got hundreds of millions of miles still in it. I couldn't let you scrap that ship, even if you were to pay me the factory price. It would be a shame. I love ships. Now take this Jumpbug . . ."

"You can't sell that Detroiter as anything but scrap," Castor answered. "It's been sitting there two years that I know of. If you had hoped to sell her as a ship you wouldn't have salvaged the computer. She's pitted, her tubes are no good, and an overhaul would cost more than she's worth. Now what's her scrap price?"

Dealer Dan rocked back and forth in his chair; he seemed to be suffering. "Scrap that ship? Just fuel her up and she's ready to go—Venus, Mars, even the Jovian satellites."

"What's your cash price?"



Ekizian hesitated, then mentioned a price. Castor stood up and said, "You were right, Pollux. Let's go see the Hungarian."

The dealer looked pained. "If I were to write it off for my own use, I couldn't cut that price—not in fairness to my partners."

"Come on, Pol."

"Look, boys, I can't let you go over to the Hungarian's. He'll cheat you."

Pollux looked savage. "Maybe he'll do it politely."

"Shut up, Pol!" Castor went on, "Sorry, Mr. Ekizian, my brother isn't housebroken. But we can't do business." He stood up.

"Wait a minute. That's a good valve you boys thought up. I use it; I feel I owe you something." He named another and lower sum.

"Sorry. We can't afford it." He started to follow Pollux out.

"Wait!" Ekizian mentioned a third price. "Cash," he added.

"Of course. And you pay the sales tax?"

"Well . . . for a cash deal, yes."


"Sit down, gentlemen. I'll call in my girl and we'll start the papers."

"No hurry," answered Castor. "We've still got to see what the Hungarian has on his lot—and the government salvage lot, too."

"Huh? That price doesn't stand unless you deal right now. Dealer Dan, they call me. I got no time to waste dickering twice."

"Nor have we. See you tomorrow. If it hasn't sold, we can take up where we left off."

"If you expect me to hold that price, I'll have to have a nominal option payment."

"Oh, no, I wouldn't expect you to pass up a sale for us. If you can sell it by tomorrow, we wouldn't think of standing in your way. Come on, Pol."

As well as Dealer Dan's lot, the government salvage yard and that of the Bankrupt Hungarian were, of course, close by the spaceport. The Hungarian's lot sported an ancient sun-tarnished sign—BARGAINS! BARGAINS!! BARGAINS!!! GOING OUT OF BUSINESS—but there were no bargains there, as Mr. Stone decided in ten minutes and Hazel in five. The government salvage yard held mostly robot freighters without living quarters—one-trip ships, the interplanetary equivalent of discarded packing cases—and obsolete military craft unsuited for most private uses. They ended up at Ekizian's lot.

From The Rolling Stones by Robert Heinlein, 1952

Port Facilities

The spaceport will also offer the services of a "weightmaster". Each fin of the spacecraft rests on a scale (while the exhaust bell points at a splash baffle or thrust diverter). The weightmaster reads the scales, totals the weight, and advises the captain. If the mass is too much over or below the mass the calculations are based on, mass will have to be removed or added.

Shortly after blast-off from a spaceport, the spacecraft can call the tower to request range, bearing and separation rate, and flight plan deviations. This is not only to check if the spacecraft is on track, but also to used to double check the performance of the spacecraft's own instruments against the land based ones. This is usually the co-pilot's job.

Landing sites in the spaceport will probably be labeled with large numbers and letters, much like real-world airport landing strips are. Airports use a special font with no name called "runway designators". The font has no confusing curves so it has good visibility to help the pilot land his vessel, and so that groundskeepers with poor mathematical skills can lay out the designators and keep them in good repair.

Runway Designators. Click for larger image. From Transport Canada

William Hostman made this into a truetype font, you can download it here. He used 0-9 and the C, L & R letters from the picture, the rest he had to derive. He used a vertical 60% small caps ratio. If you have feedback about the letters he derived, you can contact him by email hostman.william at

Miscellaneous Images

Spacemen escaping by parachute. Artwork by Earle K. Bergey, "inventor of the brass brassière"

The thrust diverters directs the exhaust impacting on the launch pad into a harmless direction.

From Space Angel (1962).


The first rockets to reach space were V-2 rockets launched from Peenemünde, Germany during World War II.[3] After the war, 70 complete V-2 rockets were brought to White Sands for test launches, with 47 of them reaching altitudes between 100 km and 213 km.[4] The world’s first spaceport for orbital and human launches, the Baikonur Cosmodrome in southern Kazakhstan, started as a Soviet military rocket range in 1955. It achieved the first orbital flight (Sputnik 1) in October 1957.  The exact location of the cosmodrome was initially held secret. Guesses to its location were misdirected by a name in common with a mining town 320 km away. The position became known in 1957 outside the Soviet Union only after U-2 planes had identified the site by following railway lines in Kazakhstan, although Soviet authorities did not confirm the location for decades.[5]  The Baikonur Cosmodrome achieved the first launch of a human into space (Yuri Gagarin) in 1961. The launch complex used, Site 1, has reached a special symbolic significance and is commonly called Gagarin's Start. Baikonur was the primary Soviet cosmodrome, and is still widely used by Russia under a lease arrangement with Kazakhstan. In response to the early Soviet successes, the United States built up a major spaceport complex at Cape Canaveral in Florida. A laurge number of unmanned flights, as well as the early human flights, were carried out at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. For the Apollo programme, an adjacent spaceport, Kennedy Space Center, was constructed, and achieved the first manned mission to the lunar surface (Apollo 11) in July 1969. It has been the base for all Space Shuttle launches and most of their runway landings. For details on the launch complexes of the two spaceports, see List of Cape Canaveral and Merritt Island launch sites. The Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana, is the major European spaceport, with satellite launches that benefit from the location 4 degrees north of the equator. In October 2003 the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center achieved the first Chinese human spaceflight. Breaking with tradition, in June 2004 on a runway at Mojave Air and Space Port, California, a human was for the first time launched to space in a privately funded, suborbital spaceflight, that was intended to pave the way for future commercial spaceflights. The spacecraft, SpaceShipOne, was launched by a carrier airplane taking off horizontally.

== Placement considerations ==

Rockets can most easily reach satellite orbits if launched near the equator in an easterly direction, as this maximizes use of the Earth's rotational speed (465 m/s). Such launches also give a good orientation for arriving at a geostationary orbit. For polar orbits and Molniya orbits this does not apply. Altitude of the launch site is not a driving factor because most of the delta-v for a satellite launch is spent on achieving the required horizontal orbital speed. The small gains from a few kilometers of extra altitude at the start does not usually off-set the ground transport problems in mountainous terrain. The advantages of high altitude include slightly less vertical distance, lower air resistance and lower air pressure (which generally improves thrust). Many spaceports have been placed at existing military installations, such as intercontinental ballistic missile ranges, which is not always ideal for satellite launches. A rocket launch site is built as far as possible away from major population centers in order to mitigate risk to bystanders should a rocket experience a catastrophic failure. In many cases a launch site is built close to major bodies of water to ensure that no components are shed over populated areas. Typically a spaceport site is large enough that, should a vehicle explode, it will not endanger human lives or adjacent launch pads. Planned sites of spaceports for sub-orbital tourist spaceflight often make use of existing ground infrastructure, including runways. The nature of the local view from Template:Convert altitude is also a factor to consider.

== Spaceports beyond Earth == 

Spaceports have been proposed for locations on the Moon, Mars, orbiting the Earth, at Sun-Earth and Earth-Moon Lagrange points, and at other locations in the solar system.  Human-tended outposts on the Moon or Mars, for example, will be spaceports by definition.[6]  The 2012 Space Studies Program of the International Space University studied the economic benefit of a network of spaceports throughout the solar system beginning from Earth and expanding outwardly in phases, within its team project Operations And Service Infrastructure for Space (OASIS).[7] Its analysis claimed that the first phase, placing the "Node 1" spaceport with space tug services in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), would be commercially profitable and reduce transportation costs to geosynchronous orbit by as much as 44% (depending on the launch vehicle).  The second phase would add a Node 2 spaceport on the lunar surface to provide services including lunar ice mining and delivery of rocket propellants back to Node 1.  This would enable lunar surface activities and further reduce transportation costs within and out from cislunar space.  The third phase would add a Node 3 spaceport on the Martian moon Phobos to enable refueling and resupply prior to Mars surface landings, missions beyond Mars, and return trips to Earth.  In addition to propellant mining and refueling, the network of spaceports could provide services such as power storage and distribution, in-space assembly and repair of spacecraft, communications relay, shelter, construction and leasing of infrastructure, maintaining spacecraft positioned for future use, and logistics.[8]

 == Space tourism ==

See also: Spaceport America The space tourism industry (see List of private spaceflight companies) is being targeted by spaceports in numerous locations worldwide. The establishment of spaceports for tourist trips raises legal issues, which are only beginning to be addressed.[9][10]

 ==Spaceports with achieved horizontal launches of humans to 100 km==

The following table shows spaceports with documented achieved launches of humans to at least 100 km altitude, starting from a horizontal runway. All the flights were Sub-orbital. {| class="wikitable"! Spaceport! Carrier aircraft! Spacecraft! Flights above 100 km! Years|-| Edwards AFBCalifornia, USA| B-52| X-15 | 2 flights (# 90-91)| 1963|-| Mojave Air and Space PortCalifornia, USA| White Knight| SpaceShipOne| 3 flights (# 15P-17P)| 2004|} 

==Spaceports with achieved vertical launches of humans==

The following is a table of spaceports and launch complexes for vertical launchers with documented achieved launches of humans to space (more than Template:Convert altitude). The sorting order is spaceport by spaceport according to the time of the first human launch. {| class="wikitable"! Spaceport! Launchcomplex! Launcher! Spacecraft! Flights! Years|-| rowspan="7" | Baikonur Cosmodrome,Kazakhstan| Site 1| Vostok (r)| Vostok 1–6|align="right" | 6 Orbital| 1961–1963|-| Site 1| Voskhod (r)| Voskhod 1–2|align="right" | 2 Orbital| 1964–1965|-| Site 1, 31| Soyuz (r)| Soyuz 1–40 †|align="right" | 37 Orbital| 1967–1981|-| Site 1, 31| Soyuz (r)| Soyuz-T 2–15|align="right" | 14 Orbital| 1980–1986|-| Site 1| Soyuz (r)| Soyuz-TM 2–34|align="right" | 33 Orbital| 1987–2002|-| Site 1| Soyuz (r)| Soyuz-TMA 1–22|align="right" | 22 Orbital| 2002–2011|-| Site 1| Soyuz (r)| Soyuz TMA-M 1–9|align="right" | 9 Orbital| 2010–|-| rowspan="4" | Cape Canaveral AFSFlorida, USA| LC5| Redstone| Mercury 3–4|align="right" | 2 Sub-O| 1961–1961|-| LC14| Atlas| Mercury 6–9|align="right" | 4 Orbital| 1962–1963|-| LC19| Titan II| Gemini 3–12|align="right" | 10 Orbital| 1965–1966|-| LC34| Saturn IB| Apollo 7|align="right" | 1 Orbital| 1968–1968|-| rowspan="4" | Kennedy Space CenterFlorida, USA| LC39| Saturn V| Apollo 8–17|align="right" | 10 Lun/Or| 1968–1970|-| LC39| Saturn IB| Skylab 2–4|align="right" | 3 Orbital| 1973–1974|-| LC39| Saturn IB| Apollo-Soyuz|align="right" | 1 Orbital| 1975–1975|-| LC39| STS 1–135 ‡| Space Shuttle|align="right" | 134 Orbital| 1981–2011|-| Jiuquan,China| Area 4| Long March 2F| Shenzhou 5–7, 9-10|align="right" | 5 Orbital| 2003–|} † Three of the Soyuz missions were unmanned and are not counted (Soyuz 2, Soyuz 20, Soyuz 34). ‡ STS-51-L (Challenger) failed to reach orbit and is not counted. STS-107 (Columbia) reached orbit and is therefore included in the count (disaster struck on re-entry).

==Spaceports with achieved satellite launches==

The following is a table of spaceports with a documented achieved launch to orbit. The table is sorted according to the time of the first launch that achieved satellite orbit insertion. The first column gives the geographical location. Operations from a different country are indicated in the fourth column. A launch is counted as one also in cases where the payload consists of multiple satellites. {| class="wikitable"! Spaceport! Years
(orbital)! Launches
to orbit
or inter-
planetary! Launch vehicles
(operators)! Sources|-| Baikonur Cosmodrome, Baikonur/Tyuratam, Kazakhstan[11]| 1957-|align="right" | >1000  | R-7/Soyuz, Kosmos, Proton, Zenit, Energia| Template:Citation needed|-| Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, USA[12]| 1958-|align="right" | >400  | Delta, Scout, Atlas, Titan, Saturn, Athena, Falcon 9| Template:Citation needed|-| Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, USA[13]| 1959-|align="right" | >500  | Delta, Scout, Atlas, Titan, Taurus, Athena, Minotaur| Template:Citation needed|-| Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia, USA[14] (see also MARS below)| 1961-1985|align="right" | 19  | Scout| 6[15]+13[16]|-| Kapustin Yar Cosmodrome, Astrakhan Oblast, Russia[17]| 1962-|align="right" | 85  | Kosmos|[17]Template:Citation needed|-| Hammaguir French Special Weapons Test Centre, Algeria[18]| 1965–1967|align="right" | 4  | Diamant A (France)| Diamant|-| Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Russia[19]| 1966-|align="right" | >1500  | Soyuz, Kosmos|[19]|-| San Marco platform, Broglio Space Centre, Malindi, Kenya[20]| 1967–1988|align="right" | 9  | Scout (ASI and Sapienza, Italy)| Broglio|-| Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA[12]| 1967-|align="right" | 151  | 17 Saturn, 134 Space Shuttle| Saturn, STS|-| Woomera Prohibited Area, South Australia[21]| 1967, 1971|align="right" | 2  | Redstone (Wresat), Black Arrow (UK Prospero X-3)| Wresat, X-3|-| Uchinoura Space Center (Kagoshima), Japan[22]| 1970–|align="right" | 28  | 27 Mu, 1 Epsilon|[22] ε|-| Guiana Space Centre, Kourou, French Guiana[23]| 1970-|align="right" | 225  | 7 Diamant, 207 Ariane, 8 Soyuz-2, 3 Vega| see 4 rockets|-| Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, China[24]| 1970-|align="right" | 58  | Long March| List LM|-| Tanegashima Space Center, Japan[25]| 1975-|align="right" | 50  | 6 N-I, 8 N-II, 9 H-I, 6 H-II, 21 H-IIA| see 5 rockets|-| Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR), Andhra Pradesh, India[26]| 1979-|align="right" | 35  | 3 SLV, 2 ASLV, 26 PSLV, 4 GSLV| List SDSC|-| Xichang Satellite Launch Center, China[27]| 1984-|align="right" | 79  | Long March| List LM|-| Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, China[28]| 1988-|align="right" | 46  | Long March| List LM|-| Palmachim Air Force Base, Israel[29]| 1988-|align="right" | 6  | Shavit| Shavit|-| Various airport runways (B-52, Stargazer)| 1990-|align="right" | 39  | Pegasus (Orbital Sciences Corporation)| Pegasus|-| Svobodny Cosmodrome, Amur Oblast, Russia[30]| 1997–2006|align="right" | 5  | Start-1|[30]|-| Delta class submarine, Barents Sea| 1998-|align="right" | 2  | Shtil' (Russia)| Shtil'|-|Odyssey mobile platform, Pacific Ocean| 1999–|align="right" | 32  | Zenit-3SL (Sea Launch)| Sea Launch|-| Kodiak Launch Complex, Alaska, USA[31][32]| 2001-|align="right" | 3  | 1 Athena, 2 Minotaur IV| Kodiak|-| Yasny Cosmodrome (Dombarovsky), Orenburg Oblast, Russia[33]| 2006-|align="right" | 7  | Dnepr-1| Dnepr-1|-| Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), Virginia, USA[34]| 2006-|align="right" | 8  | 5 Minotaur I, 2 Antares, 1 Minotaur V| MARS|-| Omelek, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands| 2008-|align="right" | 2  | Falcon 1| Falcon 1|-| Semnan, Iran[35]| 2009-|align="right" | 3  | Safir| Safir|-| Sohae, North Korea | 2012-| align="right" | 1  | Unha-3| K3-U2[36][37]|-| Naro Space Center, South Jeolla, South Korea[38]| 2013-|align="right" | 1  | Naro-1| Naro-1|-|}

== See also ==


*List of rocket launch sites

*List of human spaceflights

*Launch pad


*Orbital spaceflight*Sub-orbital spaceflight

*Port (List of spaceports)

*Office of Commercial Space Transportation (USA)

*Range safety

*Spaceport America

*Spaceport Curaçao

*Spaceport Malaysia

*Spaceport Sweden

*SpaceX private launch site


  2. Merritt Island Spaceflight Tracking and Data Network station
  3. ==Further reading==
    • Template loop detected: Template:Cite book
    • Template loop detected: Template:Cite book
    • {{cite book | first=Robert | last=Heinlein | authorlink= | date=1980 | title=Expanded Universe | edition= | publisher=Ace Books | location=New York |
  4. Ernst Stuhlinger, Enabling technology for space transportation (The Century of Space Science, page 66, Kluwer, ISBN 0-7923-7196-8)
  5. Russian Space Web on Baikonur
  6. [==Further reading==
    • Template loop detected: Template:Cite book
    • Template loop detected: Template:Cite book
    • {{cite book | first=Robert | last=Heinlein | authorlink= | date=1980 | title=Expanded Universe | edition= | publisher=Ace Books | location=New York |]
  7., OASIS official website
  8. [1]
  9. Template:Cite news
  10. Template:Cite news
  11. Baikonur –
  12. 12.0 12.1 Cape Canaveral -
  13. Vandenberg –
  14. Wallops Island -
  15. Wallops Island 3 -
  16. Wallops Island 3A -
  17. 17.0 17.1 Kapustin Yar –
  18. Hammaguira –
  19. 19.0 19.1 Plesetsk -
  20. San Marco –
  21. Woomera LA5B –
  22. 22.0 22.1 Uchinoura/Kagoshima –
  23. [2]
  24. Jiuquan –
  25. Tanegashima –
  26. Sriharikota –
  27. Xichang –
  28. Taiyuan –
  29. Palmachim –
  30. 30.0 30.1 Svobodniy –
  31. Kodiak –
  32. Kodiak Readies for Quick Launch, Aviation Week, April 2010, accessed 2010-04-26. "Alaska's remote Kodiak Launch Complex is state-of-the-art, has a perfect mission record, and will soon be able to launch a satellite-carrying rocket within 24 hours of mission go-ahead."
  33. Dombarovskiy –
  34. Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport website
  35. Semnan –
  36. Template:Cite news
  37. Template:Cite news
 == External links ==Template:WiktionaryTemplate:Commonscat-inline*MSNBC: Spaceports compete in race for business*Spaceport could be in the stars for Sheboygan  The Daily Cardinal*HighBeam Research: Spaceflight of fancy: Lawmakers question fiscal feasibility of Southern New Mexico's proposed spaceport; supporters count on jobs. Template:SpaceportTemplate:Spaceflight  

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


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.


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

Land-based SpaceportsEdit

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 SpaceportsEdit

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 SpaceportsEdit

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.


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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