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To Infinity And Beyond

In the near future, private space companies will ferry thousands of people to and from the edge of space.

Leading the charge is Virgin Galactic, with over 500 people signed up at $200,000 per person for flights beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

Founded by Richard Branson in 1999, Virgin Galactic was the first private space company to successfully launch a human being into space.

This officially began the space industry boom, with several new companies and corporations joining the expanding market.

Spaceport America, located 30 miles east of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, began construction in 2006.

It was conceived of during the early 1990’s, when the public realised that the space industry could potentially grow into something economical.

Richard Branson and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson joined together in creating Spaceport America after Virgin Galactic announced their permanent headquarters in New Mexico.

The finalised port will be completed in 2013, and space flights will commence soon after. Currently, three companies plan on launching commercial missions from the port, with more waiting on legislation that will make it easier to do business in the state.

When finished, the spaceport will cover approximately 670,000sq feet, and will house several hangars and terminal facilities, along with providing a 2-mile long runway for spaceships to operate. The entire voter-approved project was funded by the State of New Mexico, and the total cost for taxpayers will be $209 billion dollars once construction ends.

Similar spaceports have begun construction in other parts of the U.S., such as Texas, Florida, and California. A few of the companies that currently use Spaceport America for launches are UP Aerospace, Virgin Galactic, and Lockheed Martin. As of August, 2012, over twelve suborbital space flights have successfully launched from the Spaceport.

One of the deciding factors in creating the Spaceport was the enactment of New Mexico legislature that protects companies from liability should their spaceships crash or blow up.

A few key bills have yet to pass, which has kept several private space companies from deciding on whether or not they will use Spaceport America for permanent operations, but politicians are optimistic that these bills will pass.


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