Virgin Galactic, Virgin's commercial space flight branch, just recently announced that the first phase in the construction of the world's first spaceport available to civilian consumers has been completed, making the ambitious project 90% complete.
‘Spaceport America’, as it's been dubbed, is being built on an 18,000-acre site in the desolate sand plains of New Mexico, 45 miles of Las Cruces. Its nearly two-mile long, 200-foot wide runway-or “spaceway” is already complete, while the space-age looking terminal hangar is almost ready.
The spaceport, according to Virgin officials, is just months away from being completely ready, when the second phase in its inception will be done as well. The second phase, already in motion, is comprised in the completion of the Vertical Launch Complex facility, two visitor centers in nearby towns and a further visitor center on the main spaceport site.
This will put the spaceport well on track for its 2013 goal of housing the launch of the first commercial sub-orbital flight from the site - the first in many to taxi wealthy individuals literary around the world. Virgin is already taking reservations for its two-hour flights into sub-orbital space, for a price tag of US$200,000. After being launched 10 miles into space, thrill-seekers will experience about five minutes of weightlessness and look at the curvature of the earth, among other incredible perks.
These sub-orbital flights will be made on-board Virgin Galactic’s mothership and spaceship (White Knight 2 and Space Ship 2), which are still in the test phase, so far performing wonderfully. The whole concept is pioneering in nature, and as such the prospects for the future of this promising looking industry are very bright. Surely, commercial spaceflight will be very interesting to follow.