Construction Begins on Spaceport America
Spaceport America is officially under construction, and, according to those involved with the project, the world will have its first commercial spaceport by late 2010, or early 2011. This past Friday, Governor Bill Richardson was on hand to break ground in New Mexico for the operational headquarters of Virgin Galactic, and eventually other space tourism and transportation companies.
Virgin CEO Richard Branson expects to be onboard the inaugural flight of WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo within two years. (WhiteKnightTwo is a larger shuttle craft that is designed to essentially carry the piggy-backing SpaceShipTwo to higher altitudes.) Once commercial space flights begin, Virgin will offer its first available seats to the 300 people who have already paid close to $200,000 to get on the waiting list. Each of those space cruises will last two hours and climax with six minutes of zero-gravity, sub-orbital flight. The huge terminal and hangar complex will also feature a 10,000 foot runway -- long enough to handle the world's largest aircraft.
The idea of commercially viable space tourism does sound cool, but you can color us skeptical for now. Perhaps a free flight on SpaceShipTwo for the Switched staff, though, would change our opinions. (Hint, Branson. Hint.) [From: BBC]