Godspeed, Scaled Composites

How do you know it's the 21st Century? The FAA has just licensed the first US inland spaceport, at Mojave. It's in anticipation of Scaled Composite's suborbital test launch today.

How do you know the 20th Century casts a long shadow? The spaceport's site prominently asks visitors to "Dispose of trash appropriately. Foreign Object Debris, FOD can pose a serious hazard."

So we've got private spaceships, yes, but they're still a wee bit delicate. And there are other hazards to watch out for:

Running a spaceport also means keeping a watchful eye out for Gopherus agassizii. For those of you still living in your shell, that’s the desert tortoise, found in the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts of southern California. This tortoise was listed as threatened under the California state Endangered Species Act in 1989.

"Ironically…at 300 takeoffs and landings a day, nobody asked us to ever do a tortoise check. But before I can clear a spaceship to land, I have to do a tortoise check of the primary runway," Witt said.

The future is a lot like the present, only moreso.