In A Nutshell
In 1994, possible residents of Jupiter were facing grave danger from a potential interstellar collision. Not about to let them think they were alone, Green River, Wyoming, changed the name of their airport from Green River 48U to the Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport, and even issued an official city council resolution that they would accept any refugees from Jupiter that needed a new place to live. While it still attracts a number of planes that touch down and take off just to log their stop at an intergalactic spaceport, any real development has been locked in bureaucratic hell.
The Whole Bushel
For decades, we’ve been hearing stories about how aliens have been landing (mostly in rural America) and checking out the locals. They apparently prefer the rural areas despite the fact that there’s a spaceport especially for them. The residents of Green River, Wyoming, have been eagerly waiting for some extraterrestrial visitors to finally make use of the Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport.
Sounds impressive, right? It’s less impressive in real life. The lofty name was given to what’s little more than a dirt landing strip and a wind sock. (The Casper Star Tribune calls it a “substandard windsock.”)
The whole thing started with some science. In 1994, astronomers found that Jupiter was in the path of something terrifying—fragments that had broken off from the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet. This was, of course, the chance to study an extraterrestrial phenomenon that we knew had happened on our own planet more than once, with some devastating consequences. Those consequences weren’t lost on the residents of Green River, who just happened to have a 1,525-meter (5,000 ft) landing strip that would be perfect for extraterrestrial refugees.
Never mind that science had never found the smallest shred of evidence that there was anything living on the gas giant; Green River was not to be swayed. The city was determined to embrace the spirit of open arms and take the idea of America as a melting pot even further. The city council even passed an official resolution making it clear that their doors were open. Resolution No. R94-23 declared the city’s “offer of sanctuary to the possible residents of the planet Jupiter, being in imminent peril.”
In spite of concerns from citizens (where were these refugees going to stay?) the landing strip was renamed from the rather boring Green River 48U to the Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport. The name was even approved by the FAA.
And just in case anyone’s starting to wonder if there’s something questionable in the water of Green River, it was all a tourism stunt. The landing strip attracts a number of small planes and craft that touch down just for the privilege of adding an intergalactic space station to their log books.
In 2013, the city looked into making more out of their intergalactic space station. It would mean some major changes, not the least of which would mean changing their wind sock to one that meets FAA codes and guidelines. They’d also need another sign (every sign they put up gets stolen). Some buildings, like a hangar and some refueling stations to attract regular airplanes, probably wouldn’t hurt either.
Plans to make the Intergalactic Spaceport into something that would live up to its name (or, at the very least, have bathrooms) have been delayed by arguments over whether or not Green River has the right to open even a small airport so close to the Rock Springs-Sweetwater County Airport. Master plans have been accepted, arguments made, but sadly, the wind sock still hasn’t been replaced.
Show Me The Proof
Featured photo credit: CGP Grey
Atlas Obscura: Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport
Casper Star-Tribune: Wyoming ‘spaceport’ promoters want more landings, but county commissioner not thrilled
Billings Gazette: Wyoming ‘Intergalactic Spaceport’ board awaits takeoff