Richard Branson opened the world’s first commercial spaceport yesterday, called Spaceport America in Las Cruces, New Mexico yesterday, and yeah sure sure the structure looks fucking gorgeous and 100 years ahead of it’s time, but there were also… acrobats!
From the AP on the grand opening:
Branson was joined by Gov. Susana Martinez, astronaut Buzz Aldrin and scores of would-be space travelers at the terminal-hangar for the dedication. It had been nearly a year since Branson was in New Mexico to celebrate the completion of the runway.
“The building is absolutely magnificent,” he said. “It is literally out of this world, and that’s what we were aiming at creating.”
With the spaceport and mothership completed, the company is now finalizing its rocket tests.
“We’re ticking the final boxes on the way to space,” Branson said.
He hopes enough powered test flights of Virgin Galactic’s sleek spacecraft can be done by the end of 2012 to start commercial suborbital flights from the spaceport soon after.
More than 450 people have purchased tickets to fly with Virgin Galactic. About 150 of them attended the ceremony.
Before getting to enter the hangar, the crowd was treated to a flyover by WhiteKnightTwo, the mothership that one day will help take space tourists on suborbital flights.
The $209 million taxpayer-financed spaceport will be a launch station for people and payloads on the rocket ships being developed for Virgin Galactic.
With custom metal paneling and massive panes of glass, the state-of-the-art terminal rises from the desert floor to face the nearly 2-mile concrete runway.
The building will house Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft, mission control and a preparation area for travelers.