Virgin Galactic to Base Spaceport America in New Mexico Desert

Posted January 6, 2009 by Zak Patten

Spaceportamerica I know I'm supposed to be a serious adult, and most of the time I am. But every now and then, especially when the topic of space travel comes up, the geeky eight-year-old in me perks up his Vulcan ears and marvels at the wonder of it all. And so it was when I read that Virgin Galactic, the commercial space-travel outfit headed by Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic mogul Sir Richard Branson, had settled on a launch site near Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

The site, to be known as Spaceport America, sounds like something out of The Jetsons, and judging by the "artist's renderings," which are the only view we have of the project now, it may look a lot like a Kennedy-era model for the space station of the future, albeit in the U.S. desert. And Virgin Galactic won't be the only tenant. UP Aerospace and Payload Specialties, as well as the tantalizingly named Rocket Racing League and Microgravity Enterprises will also be in residence. 

Once construction has been completed on Spaceport America, "the nation’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport," the fun can really begin. Apparently Virgin Galactic has quite the waiting list for its sub-orbital flights, with 45,000 registered "potential astronauts." I'm imagining the scene at the spaceport in about 2015—passengers gazing out at the launch pad, sipping Tang, and munching on freeze-dried ice cream. It'll probably be a few years before Spaceport America is merely one hub in the Virgin Galactic route network (the others of course being Spaceports Europe, Asia, the Moon, and perhaps Venus), but a "spaceline" has to start somewhere, right?

I'm feeling decades younger just writing about it. How about you? Are you excited enough about having a spaceport that you'll take a vacation in New Mexico just to see a launch or talk to an astronaut? Or are you waiting until the spacefare ($200,000 right now) comes back down to Earth? Please comment below and let me know.

(Image: Spaceport America)

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Reader Comments

You bet I'm excited! I will definitely have to see this one, even if I never get to ride.

Posted on January 09, 2009 at 11:02 AM by Sonya Amberson

Same here, but I'm still holding out for a *short* trip into space ... someday. :-)

Posted on January 09, 2009 at 11:26 AM by Zak

Well, they broke ground last month and funding is done.

A little bit closer baby

Posted on July 16, 2009 at 08:05 PM by Eyeswideopen

I am excited too but I will have to wait until the galactic price comes down to my income level.

Posted on August 18, 2010 at 08:19 PM by Rob

As a long time SF fan, I'm excited for humanity. I'm less anxious to go up there personally, at least until it's as routine as air travel is now. I'll let you pioneers take the arrows :)

Posted on February 14, 2011 at 09:19 PM by Richard Stooker

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