Yep, the future is here. Richard Branson officially christened Spaceport America, the world’s first commercial spaceport, which will house his Virgin Galactic space tourism business.
The Washington Post reports that Branson rappelled from the rafters before taking a healthy swig of champagne, christening the new spaceport. Approximately 150 people were in attendance, including New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
Richard Branson said:
“It is incredible to be here today with Governor Richardson and be part of the runway dedication at Spaceport America. To see for myself how far the construction has come from when I last visited New Mexico is truly inspiring – I for one can’t wait for the grand opening… The last few weeks have been some of the most exciting in Virgin Galactic’s development. Our spaceship is flying beautifully and will soon be making powered flights, propelled by our new hybrid rocket motor, which is also making excellent progress in its own test program… We are seeing unprecedented numbers of people coming forward to secure their own reservations for this incredible experience.”
Governor Richardson added:
“We are celebrating the world’s first spaceway at the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport. New Mexico is not only helping to launch the commercial spaceflight industry, but we are launching new jobs and opportunities for the people of southern New Mexico. Today marks a significant milestone on our historic and exciting journey.”
Branson said that he hopes to do several powered test flights during 2012 so that he can start sending civilians into space as soon as possible. 450 people have already purchased a ticket (at approximately $200,000 a pop) to space aboard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spacecraft.
The SF Gate reports that Branson and New Mexico officials have been working on Spaceport America for the last 6-years. The $209 million facility represents another major milestone that brings space tourism one step closer.
Are you hoping for a generous space tourism coupon day from Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic?