23 Oct 2010

Spaceport inaugurated in New Mexico

1:04 pm on 23 October 2010

Commercial space tourism is a step nearer reality with the inauguration of the world's first spaceport in the desert of New Mexico.

The event was marked by a flypast on Friday of SpaceShip Two, a craft backed by British entrepreneur Richard Branson.

The BBC reports it's designed to carry fare-paying passengers to the edge of space and back.

SpaceShipTwo had its maiden flight in the California desert in March.

It could carry paying customers into suborbital space by early 2012 and has been re-christened the VSS Enterprise.

A new runway 3.2km long and 60 metres wide has been built.

Virgin Galactic has already collected $US45 million in deposits for seat reservations. Fares start at $US200,000.