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World’s First Commercial Spaceport

Our favorite  billionaire, Richard Branson has opened the world’s first commercial spaceport in the New Mexico desert, the new home for his company Virgin Galactic

Good-bye, Cape Canaveral. It’s been nice knowing you, Edwards Air Force Base. The future hub of space travel won’t be some restricted-access military installation. It will be in the middle of the New Mexico desert — and look surprisingly like a cylon raider from Battlestar Galactica. This fall, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority unveiled the design for the world’s first public launching and landing site for space vehicles, Spaceport America, future home to Virgin Galactic and the X Prize cup. The plan — by UK architecture firm Foster + Partners and San Francisco-based engineering shop URS — includes a passenger terminal and a hangar big enough for seven craft. When it’s completed in 2010, the project will have set New Mexico’s taxpayers back an estimated $225 million. And with that kind of money, you can buy a lot of sci-fi panache. “The spaceport design had to be a vision of the future, not the past,” says Will Whitehorn, Virgin Galactic’s president. “It’s not a railroad station we’re building out there.” While Spaceport America’s anchor tenant will be Virgin — which is still hoping for a 2009 launch despite a recent explosion at its development facility in Southern California — other private space ventures are invited to dock there as well. Can’t afford a $200,000 ticket to the heavens? Just head 200 miles east to see if you can hitch a ride from Roswell instead.

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