Just a few miles south-east of Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico, in the states’ southern desert it’s a clear sunny afternoon and 17°. Perfect conditions for a spaceship to do a flyover for the dedication of Spaceport America. While this may sound like science fiction, or news that George Jetson might read, it’s not.
Today Richard Branson will be at the dedication of his new runway and spaceport that will start launching civilians into space as early as next year. As part of the ceremony, Virgin Galactic will have its newest airplane WhiteKnightTwo, and spaceship SpaceShipTwo, flyover the spaceport. WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo cooperate to achieve orbit altitude. The dedication of Spaceport America marks the end of Space Week in New Mexico and comes at a great time for Virgin Galactic as last week they successfully completed their first glide test flight of SpaceShipTwo, named the VSS Enterprise. Real Star Trek type stuff.
Spaceport America is owned by the state of New Mexico and Virgin has contributed some $100 million to the $200 million construction budget. In addition, they have a contract to operate there for the next 20 years, which could turn out to be quite profitable if they meet their target of 2 launches per day and can maintain ticket sales at their current price of $200,000 per person.
Although the photo is not yet a reality, the majority of construction is complete, including the lengthy 3000m runway and terminal/hangar building which is set to adhere to LEED Gold certification – the highest environmental certification a new construction can achieve. A great aerial photo of the site can be seen at the Virgin Galactic website. The coming months will definitely be noteworthy times for the history of space travel and Virgin Galactic as they get ready for their first launches.
Update: Video from yesterdays dedication