Spaceport America Runway Completed

Richard Branson will enter history today, and perhaps the visionaries of the past decades will see their dreams beginning to come true. Work on the first runway of the world's maiden purpose-built commercial spaceport has been completed, and a special dedication ceremony will be held today at Spaceport America, near the town of Las Cruces.

The event will be marked by a flypass of the craft built to take off and land on the runway, VSS Enterprise, accompanied by the launch ship Eve. There is no landing planned though on the 3.2 km long (2 miles) runway.

"The completion of the runway at Spaceport America is a major milestone in the construction of the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport," Virgin Galactic, the company behind the entire day-dreaming project said in a statement.

Spaceport America, designed by Foster + Partners, is funded by Virgin Galactic and backed by the State of New Mexico. It will become, as said, the first location on Earth from which space flights will take off, on a regular basis, with civilians on board.

Hitching a ride in the VSS Enterprise is not cheap though, but it's not prohibitively expensive either. Virgin charges $200,000, with deposits starting from $20,000 (so far, 340 people booked a flight). There is however some waiting to do before those money turn into space flights. The first real flight of the sub-orbital ship is scheduled for 2012.

We'll keep an eye out for what happens at the dedication ceremony and come back on the subject. For all intents and purposes, you might be watching history in the making.


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