Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
World’s first commercial spaceport. Check. Solo flight of a rocket ship for tourists. Check. A runway in the southern New Mexico desert to help them climb to the heavens. Check…
“Today is very personal, as our dream becomes more real,” said Sir Richard Branson, whose company, Virgin Galactic, will operate the flights. “People are beginning to believe now.”
All that is left for the company is more rocket testing on SpaceShipTwo and sending it into space. The British billionaire said he expects flights for space tourists to begin in nine to 18 months, and he will be among the first passengers.
Stretching across a flat dusty plain 45 miles north of Las Cruces, the nearly two-mile-long runway is designed to support almost every aircraft in the world, day-to-day space tourism and payload launch operations.
Virgin Galactic is the anchor tenant of the taxpayer-funded $198 million spaceport and plans to use the facility to take tourists on what will first be short hops into space…
Branson was joined at Friday’s ceremonies by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, tourists who have already paid their deposits for a seat into suborbital space and Buzz Aldrin, who walked on the moon in 1969 as part of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission.
Virgin Galactic’s White Knight Two – the special jet-powered mothership that will carry SpaceShipTwo to launch altitude – also made an appearance Friday, passing over the spaceport several times before landing on the new runway.
Bravo! Gives me an excuse eventually to drive downstate and watch takeoffs and landings.
Can’t afford the flight.