Spaceport America was completed in 2012 by English businessman, Sir Richard Branson through his company, Virgin Galactic. To see it, you must book a tour. The tour meets in Truth of Consequences and travels by bus about 35 miles and through the town of Engels. The tour takes about four hours and costs around $50 per person.
Our tour guide told us many things, but some that have stuck with us are the following:
Private space travel is in its very beginning stages, so as of now it is expensive and risky. The long-term goal is to perfect it to the point where, for an example, someone on business could board a plane in London and arrive in Dubai in less than one hour for a reasonable cost.
The spaceport is located near White Sands Missile Range because that air space is already closed off to commercial flights, giving the spaceport needed vacant air space.
Because the Spaceport would create many jobs directly and through the hospitality industry, the state of New Mexico has helped in the creation of the spaceport financially, but so far the investment has not paid off. A test flight in 2014 crashed, setting back the anticipated time schedule. Many people have booked spaces on the first flights for as much as $250,000 per person for a three-hour excursion. Of course, these people are quite wealthy and include several celebrities.
The pioneer guests would enter a small plane with a pilot that is attached to a rocket, also with its own pilot. The rocket would launch the plane to the edge of the atmosphere. The rocket and its pilot then detach and return to Earth as a glider. The people in the remaining plane would then experience the feeling of weightlessness for several minutes. Through gravity, the plane slowly re-enters the atmosphere and its pilot flies it back down to land at the Spaceport.
Right now the Spaceport is virtually empty of people and activity. We were disappointed not to be able to see the planes which were locked in the hangar. We also had hoped to tour the hangar and get photos from the top of it, but the tour company can give no guarantees about what one will see on any particular day. Still, we thought the tour was worth it because the architecture is always there, and it certainly achieves the fitting space age look.