British billionaire Richard Branson’s company Virgin Galactic on Monday opened the world’s first-ever commercial spaceport in the New Mexico desert, which will be the hub for space tourist shuttles. The opening ceremony was attended by New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and 150 Virgin Galactic customers, amongst others.
Spaceport America, that cost $209 million, is expected to house up to 2 White-Knight-Twos and 5 Spac-Ship-Twos, in addition to all astronaut preparation facilities and mission control. Head of Virgin Galactic George Whitesides said that the first commercial space flight would be launched next year.
Virgin Galactic has sold some 430 tickets for space travel, at $200,000 a trip for an estimated $86 million.