As space firms gear up to take adventuresome Earthlings into the great beyond, they’ll need a place to keep their space vehicles. Now, they’ve got one. Spaceport America, the world’s first hanger and runway for commercial space flight, was inaugurated last week by Virgin Galactic in the desert of New Mexico. The region’s sparse population, high altitude and 330 days of clear weather each year make the location ideal. Near to the White Sands Missile Range, overhead commercial aircraft interference will be non-existent.
What’s the Big Idea?
The spaceport, paid for by New Mexicans, is expected to bring some 2,000 jobs to the region in the next five years. When Virgin Galactic begins shuttling tourists to and from space, it will make one journey a week but the company hopes to eventually make two flights daily. The excitement at the opening was palpable. David Whitcomb, the 186th person to sign up for the $200,000 trip said of Virgin’s anticipated test flight: “Even if the first one crashes, I’m still going.”