Back in October, British billionaire Richard Branson hosted the inauguration of the world's first spaceport, "Spaceport America". Branson's commercial space tourism venture will be like nothing the world has seen before or many have even imagined possible 50 years ago. The $209 million taxpayer-financed terminal will host Virgin Galctic spacecraft, blasting tourist into space on a return ticket priced at a hefty $200,000 price tag.
The luxury terminal is based in the southern desert of New Mexico where it sports a sleek futuristic design with massive panels of glass and a 2 mile concrete runway that Branson says is literally out of this world, dead on with the feel of the original design concept. The building will house Virgin Galactic spacecraft, mission control and a preparation area for travelers when flights begin in early 2013.
All thats left are the required amount of rocket test flights of the Virgin Galactic spacecraft, which will hopefully be completed by the end of 2012 to allow commercial suborbital flights from the spaceport soon after.
More than 450 people have purchased tickets to fly Virgin Galactic, but these wealthy clients will have to wait. Barnson says he and his two children will be among the first to fly, and he said he wants to ensure he can bring them home safely. 'We want to be sure we've really tested the craft through and through before turning it over to the astronauts who bought tickets to go up,' he said. Commercial service will start up after the company gets a license from the Federal Aviation Administration. NASA has already signed a $4.5 million contract with the company for up to three chartered research flights.