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New Mexico spaceport sets stage for Virgin Galactic trips to space

New Mexico spaceport sets stage for Virgin Galactic trips to space

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New Mexico is the destination if you want to get a ticket to outer space.

Upham, New Mexico, is the location of Sir Richard Branson’s dream – the world’s first commercial flights to outer space. Flights will begin in 2011.

British tycoon Richard Branson has dreamed of going to space since he was a teenager. He’ll get his wish when Virgin Galactic begins taking tourists into suborbital space from a specially designed spaceport in the New Mexico desert.

Gov. Bill Richardson, a longtime space buff, remembers when astronaut Alan Shepard first reached space and man first walked on the moon. He wants to see space too, but he’s not willing to be among the first passengers on Branson’s out-of-this-world venture.

Branson and Richardson shook hands five years ago to build the world’s first dedicated spaceport. With the runway 45 miles north of Las Cruces complete, and the terminal and hangar facility nearly done, they see their partnership as a major milestone for the world’s burgeoning commercial space tourism industry.

It’s only a matter of time now — and not much time — before the industry starts to take off, experts say.

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“It’s a dream come true. It’s happened. New Mexico is going to be a leader in space tourism,” Richardson proclaimed last week, standing on the nearly two-mile-long concrete runway at Spaceport America.

From Time

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