Special Coating System for Virgin Galactic Spaceport

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Virgin Galactic Spaceport (Spaceport America) in New Mexico, USA.

Located on 18,000 acres in the desert of New Mexico lies the world’s first commercial spaceport. It will take space tourists into orbit in 2018, the first private company in the world to do so. Weather conditions are extreme which meant the buildings’ exterior needed a robust coating system.

The site was built to accommodate both vertical and horizontal launch aerospace vehicles. Spaceport America is the home of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceflight program. Its a collaboration with the New Mexico Space Authority.

The futuristic design is based upon a vision of creating minimal impact on the landscape. The building seems to glide like a manta ray, blending in colour and shape with the desert. Spaceport America is environmentally conscious and keeping sustainability in mind.

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Kymax™ Coating was used to create the finished mottled effect on Spaceport Americas’ exterior.

The Exterior Coating Solution

An EPDM membrane was used for the first layer, followed by Roof Mate Base Coating which was sprayed at 100% coverage and back rolled for quick adhesion of the next layer of coating. Three layers of United Coatings™ Kymax™ Coating were then applied to achieve a mottled finish. This mimicked the colour of the surrounding desert landscape.

The architects provided computer-generated drawings of the entire roof showing the desired percentages of colours to be sprayed. The first coat of tan-colored United Coatings™ Kymax™ Coating was applied at 75%, the second, reddish brown coat at 65% and the third and final mocha colour coat was sprayed at 35 percent.

Project Facts

kymax coating

United Coatings™ Kymax™ Coating was chosen not only for its ability to be tinted to any colour imaginable, but also for its extreme weather-ability. It is a fluoropolymer, thin-build elastomeric coating that provides long-term colour stability, resistance to dirt build-up, and protection against severe weather conditions. It cures at ambient temperatures, meaning it can be field-applied to a variety of substrates and be used as a finish coat over acrylic base coats.

Another benefit of the coating is the potential energy savings created by United Coatings™ Kymax™ Coating’s ability to resist biological growth and other external factors that reduce the reflectivity of more traditional roofing materials.

Main Uses

Typical substrates include metal roofs, sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam, modified bitumen, BUR, PVC, KEE, TPO, Hypalon®, and EPDM. The coating was specifically designed for application as a thin-build finish coat over acrylic top coats.

Key Benefits

  • Highly flexible yet robust enamel-like finish
  • Resists abrasion, biological growth, dirt, oil,
  • Extreme weather resistance
  • UV and color stability

Steve Elsley, project manager, Progressive Roofing:

We were very pleased with how the spray technique worked. We achieved the desired mottle and four-colored appearance by using different nozzles so we didn’t get 100 percent coverage, and it allowed us to do final touch ups to take out some of the high and low spots so there wasn’t as much contrast.

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One of Richard Branson’s Spaceships at Spaceport America.

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