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Sierra County: Home of Spaceport America

Above: Virgin Galactic’s “chief astronaut instructor” Beth Moses describes her first test flight on Feb. 22, 2019, on VSS Unity's second spaceflight. She worked for NASA on the assembly of the International Space Station and is designing the 3-day training program for Virgin Galactic’s future space tourists

What is it?

  • Spaceport America is the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport designed and constructed specifically for commercial users. What differentiates Spaceport America from other spaceports is that the facility had not previously been used as an airport or federal infrastructure of any kind.
  • The site is built to accommodate both vertical and horizontal launch aerospace vehicles, as well as an array of non-aerospace events and commercial activities.
  • Spaceport America is not owned by Sir Richard Branson, as has been frequently misreported in the media. The facility is owned and operated by the State of New Mexico.
  • Tenants of Spaceport America include Virgin Galactic, EXOS Aerospace Systems and Technologies, SpaceX and UP Aerospace.
  • Spaceport America has been used as the setting for film and commercial production (including this Toyota commercial that aired during the 2019 Superbowl)
  • The facility is frequently used for STEM education projects for students of all ages.
  • Spaceport America was designed and built utilizing the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED NCv2.2 program as the framework for the sustainable development of the facility. The LEED Rating System is generally recognized as being the most prominent set of sustainability guidelines in the United States by emphasizing strategies for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection, and indoor environmental quality.

Where is it?

Why is it in Sierra County?

  • Spaceport America is situated on 18,000 acres adjacent to the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range and boasts 6,000 square miles of restricted airspace. Restricted airspace is required so that launches from the facility do not interfere with commercial and private air traffic.
  • At an elevation of 4,595 feet, Spaceport America has an advantage over other sea level spaceport locations. A higher elevation puts launches almost a mile closer to space, saving energy and fuel.

When will Virgin Galactic launch its space tourism flights?

  • Virgin will launch after all possible testing has been done to protect the safety of their passengers.

How do I visit Spaceport?

If I can’t visit Spaceport America, what is the next best thing?

Sierra County's Spaceport America on Google Maps

Spaceport America on Google Maps

SPACEPORT NEWS

Virgin Galactic Spaceship Two

Virgin Galactic, Italian Air Force team up

From AVPress.com: “Virgin Galactic announced a contract with the Italian Air Force Wednesday to fly a science experiment tended by researchers during a flight to suborbital space on the Space­Ship­Two spacecraft.”

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the cavernous hangar at Spaceport America

Virgin Galactic Inaugurates Gateway to Space

Virgin Galactic, which aims to start launching paying customers to suborbital space in the near future, declared its “Gateway to Space” building operational on August 15, 2019.

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Virgin Galactic will go public

Virgin Galactic Going Public After Merger

Richard Branson’s space-tourism venture, Virgin Galactic, is planning to go public, creating the first listed human spaceflight firm.

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SpinLaunch breaking ground at Spaceport America

SpinLaunch to break ground at Spaceport

SpinLaunch, a company that’s developed technology to catapult rockets to the edge of space, will soon to break ground at Spaceport America.

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Virgin Galactic comments from 2019 Space Symposium

SpaceShipTwo Test Program Expected to Progress “Fairly Quickly”

Virgin Galactic’s chief pilot believes the company will be able to go through the remainder of its SpaceShipTwo test program fairly quickly once test flights of the suborbital spaceplane resume.

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Beth Moses, chief astronaut instructor for Virgin Galactic

Chief Astronaut Instructor Describes First Flight on WhiteKnightTwo

Beth Moses, VG’s chief astronaut instructor, took her first test flight in February of 2019 and earned her commercial astronaut wings in April.

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Sir Branson again, near WhiteKnight2 replica, at Spaceport America

Branson wants to fly to space in July 2019

“My wish is to go up on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing — that’s what we’re working on.”

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Washington Post writes about Spaceport America

Virgin Galactic’s Quest for Space (Washington Post)

A November 2018 Washington Post article on Virgin Galactic’s “quest for space.”

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UP Aerospace rocket at Spaceport America

UP Aerospace Completes Two Space Launches Within Five Days

On September 12 and 17 2018, UP Aerospace demonstrated their ability to fly sub-orbital launch vehicles in rapid succession.

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Virgin Galactic Just Made Its Second Successful Test Flight to Space

Condé Nast: Virgin Galactic Just Made Its Second Successful Test Flight to Space

In its third journey with high-powered rockets (and 14th test flight overall), the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo hurtled into the Earth’s atmosphere at Mach 2.47, more than twice the speed of sound and much faster than it’s previous Mach 1.9.

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Virgin Galactic logo

Condé Nast Traveler: Space Tourism Reality Is a Bit Closer

Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic hit major milestones, bringing future vacations in space a bit closer to reality.

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KRWG Las Cruces

Virgin Galactic Releases Update on New Mexico Spaceflight Operations (from KRWG Las Cruces)

KRWG’s Michael Hernandez reports on Virgin Galactic’s April 2018 presentation to the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance.

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Spaceport America runway pre-lengthening

What Virgin Galactic’s ‘Big Move’ Means for Commercial Space Travel

Virgin Galactic announced last week that it is planning a big move of its operations to Spaceport America in New Mexico next year. “We know you’ve waited a long time and we are coming.”

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Spaceport America Cup

2017 Spaceport America Cup

The 2017 Spaceport America Cup is set for June 20 through 24, and will bring more teams than ever to compete.

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USC Launches Rocket at Spaceport America, sets record

USC’s Record Setter

University of Southern California Rocket Propulsion Lab launch of Fathom II rocket at Spaceport America on March 4, 2017 to an altitude of 144,000 ft.

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runners in the Spaceport Relay

Spaceport America Relay Race April 8-9, 2017

Teams of 12 runners will complete 36 legs between the El Paso Coliseum and Spaceport America.

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2016 Spaceport America Drone Summit

Spaceport America Drone Summit Video

Video from the 2016 Spaceport America Drone Summit, held November 11-13.

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Virgin Galactic Third Powered Flight January 2014

Virgin to Test Its Spacecraft in 2016

SpaceShipTwo will begin “glide flight testing” before the end of 2016, according to Virgin Galactic.

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Spaceport America Director Dan Hicks

Spaceport America Names New Chief Executive Officer

Spaceport America’s new Chief Executive Officer, replacing Christine Anderson, is Dan Hicks. Hicks is a graduate of NMSU with a 34-year record at White Sands Missile Range.

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WhiteKnight2 replica at Spaceport America

Open House at Spaceport America Set for October 1, 2016

Spaceport America will host another OPEN HOUSE event on October 1. It’s free to the public, but preregistration is required.

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spaceport america featured in 3DR drone commercial

Spaceport America’s “Signature Event Series”

5 new events will be held at Spaceport America in 2016 and 2017. The Open House, Drone Summit, Spaceport America Mile, Spaceport America Relay Race and Spaceport America Cup will repeat annually.

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Virgin Galactic logo

Virgin Galactic: License is an “Important Milestone”

“The Federal Aviation Administration has granted Virgin Galactic a commercial license to operate its SpaceShipTwo — the latest milestone in the aspiring spaceline’s quest to one day fly from New Mexico’s Spaceport America.”

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Spaceport Executive Director Christine Anderson

Anderson Guided Spaceport in Tough Time

“Anderson had the challenge of keeping the spaceport going without the anticipated revenue from Virgin Galactic, which is still paying its lease, but is not attracting visitors to the spaceport or generating revenue through launches.”

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Exos Aerospace

EXOS Aerospace to Fly From Spaceport

EXOS Aerospace Systems and Technologies plans to fly from the Spaceport over the next 5 years, according to a joint statement.

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Adidas space apparel prototypes

Adidas’ “Y-3” Creates Spacesuit Prototypes for Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic has collaborated with Yohji Yamamoto, a Japanese designer from Adidas’ Y-3 label, to create a new line of apparel that’s ready for space travel.

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Turner Enterprises Teams Up with Spaceport America

The close proximity of Spaceport America to the Sierra Grande Lodge & Spa and the Armendaris and Ladder ranches presents a serendipitous opportunity for an exclusive partnership.

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Spaceport America runway pre-lengthening

November 6 2015 UP Aerospace Launch Video

The November 6 mission was UP Aerospace’s 10th SpaceLoft rocket launch and the first deployment mission (for NASA, deploying the Maraia Earth Return Capsule).

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rocket launched from Spaceport America reaches record altitude

November 6 Rocket Launch: You’re Invited!

Tickets are on sale now for a ride out to Spaceport America to watch an UpAerospace rocket launch!

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Photo opp with Richard Branson

Free Open House at Spaceport America

Spaceport America held its first ever FREE Open House on a gorgeous Saturday in October, when the first 200 cars to RSVP were allowed to drive out and see the facility.

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Editorial: High Caliber of Spaceport Talent Should Lift NM spirits

Space tourism and suborbital travel have huge promise. As home to the only place in the nation besides the White House that has protected airspace from ground to infinity, New Mexico should understand that.

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Spaceport America runway pre-lengthening

Spaceport America and ARCA to jointly test Launch Vehicles and High Altitude UAVs

Spaceport officials announced in early September that ARCA Space Corporation will test its space launch vehicle and high altitude autonomous aircraft at Spaceport America.

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smithsonian - 25 new places to see

Smithsonian’s Top 25 Things to See

Spaceport America is third in a list of 25 places that need to be seen – from Smithsonian.com.

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student launch at Spaceport America

How the Spaceport America Project Has Benefitted Local Students

Spaceport America has benefitted Sierra County in many ways. In light of the Spaceport Visitor Center opening in downtown Truth or Consequences, we put together a list of the positives.

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spaceport america featured in 3DR drone commercial

3DR Solo Drone Commercial

Spaceport America provides an effective backdrop for a drone commercial

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Valentines Day fly-in to Spaceport America

Valentine’s Day at Spaceport – Private “Pilots Fly-In”

The inaugural Private Pilots Fly-in Event marked the start of a recurring opportunity for private pilots to land at Spaceport America.

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Spaceport America runway pre-lengthening

State of the Spaceport: January 2015 Newsletter from Christine Anderson

Director Christine Anderson on the state of Spaceport America in January of 2015.

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YouTube video

Virgin Galactic + Grey Goose Vodka

Virgin Galactic has partnered with Gray Goose Vodka.

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Spaceport America - Adventure is Calling

“Adventure’s Calling.”

Four friends will win Land Rover’s Galactic Discovery competition which ends on November 21.

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Virgin Galactic Third Powered Flight January 2014

Amazing Cool Video of Virgin Galactic’s Third Powered Flight

Video of Virgin Galactic’s Third Powered Flight, which occurred on January 14, 2014.

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Instagram logo

Spaceport America on Instagram

Beauty of a shot of the Gateway to Space at Spaceport America on Instagram. Photo by isaac.herrera.

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Reuters News Agency visits Spaceport America

Reuters: Beautiful Photos + Story on Spaceport and T or C

Wonderful photos of Spaceport America and Truth or Consequences, the town that sits 35 miles northwest of the facility.

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Spaceport America’s Award Winning Architecture

The SPA January 2014 newsletter is out! Among the announcements, Spaceport is the recipient of two recent awards for architecture, one from NAIOP and the other from AIA.

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Lady Gaga is Launching from Spaceport America

Lady Gaga will become the first ever recording artist to perform outside the earth’s atmosphere when she launches from Spaceport America in early 2015.

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Gwynne Shotwell of SpaceX at ISPCS

SpaceX President COO Gwynne Shotwell Delivers Keynote at ISCPCS

Gwynne Shotwell of SpaceX delivers a keynote during the ISCPCS conference discussing the Space industry as a whole, and how SpaceX has grown since its 2002 inception.

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near-space balloon

Spaceport America is Ahead of the Curve

Lots of people want to get in on the nascent space flight market. States and locales as diverse as Hawaii, Georgia, Alabama, and Puerto Rico are eyeing the possibility of building a spaceport, but New Mexico’s Spaceport America is already near completion and has launched 19 vertical launches so far.

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Virgin Galactic logo

October Newsletter Brings News of the 20th Launch from Spaceport America

Did you hear about the September 25 event at Virgin Galactic in Mojave? The one where Richard Branson entertained 300 future astronauts? Spaceport America’s Executive Director Christine Anderson was there.

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Spaceport America runway pre-lengthening

Draft ISPCS 2013 Conference Scheduled Released

ISPCS has released a draft schedule for its October conference. Keynote speakers and panel sessions will occur in Las Cruces, but the conference concludes with a tour to Spaceport America.

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International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Space Flight

Registration Is Open For ISCPS 2013

ISPCS reports that registration is open for its 2013 (October 16 & 17) conference.

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Spaceport America runway pre-lengthening

Spaceport America Runway Extension Complete!

As of the July 1 newsletter from Spaceport America, the runway extension is finished, extended length totals 12,000 feet.

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UP Aerospace SpaceLoft-7

June 21 Launch from Spaceport America

“Fine weather and on-time.” Jerry Larson of UP Aerospace described the most recent Spaceport America launch as a success all the way around.

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Press Junket for Shyamalan’s Sci Fi Film “After Earth” at Spaceport America

Jaden and Will Smith visited Southern New Mexico in May, as part of a press junket for their new movie “After Earth.”

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Grasshopper by SpaceX, the newest tenant at Spaceport America

The Amazing SpaceX Grasshopper!

Spaceport America’s newest tenant is SpaceX, the creator of “Grasshopper” – a rocket that is able to return to the launch pad intact for a vertical landing, rather than burning up upon reentry in the Earth’s atmosphere.

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Fire Truck at Spaceport America

Fire Truck at Spaceport America

Someone sent us this photo of a Fire Truck at Spaceport America, just because it looks cool.

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Richard Branson offers seat-to-seat messaging on Virgin Airlines

The Latest from Sir B: Seat-to-Seat Messaging on VA

The skies just got a little friendlier with “Seat-to-Seat” messaging system, a new feature offered on many Virgin America Airlines flights.

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Virgin Galactic & Spaceport America – Doing Business in New Mexico

An article from the Albuquerque Journal on some of the Albuquerque businesses that have been chosen by Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America to provide services to the facility.

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Raton New Mexico

Raton Students’ Enthusiasm for Spaceport Pays Off

Raton students traveled to the State Capitol in Santa Fe earlier this year to participate in the 2013 Legislative Session and the passing of the Limited Liability bill that was so crucial to Spaceport America’s success.

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Governor Martinez signs Informed Consent Bill at Spaceport America

Done Deal – Governor Martinez Signs Informed Consent Bill

From the Spaceport America Newsletter: “At a ceremony on-site at Spaceport America this afternoon, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez signed into law the Informed Consent legislation.”

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KVIA news on Spaceport America

Video from KVIA News, El Paso on New Mexico’s Spaceport

Video on developments at New Mexico’s Spaceport America, as shared on IDEAS Orlando’s YouTube channel:

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Supercars coming to Spaceport America

Supercars 2013: Ecurie25 comes to Spaceport America

Got a need for speed (and a spare $9,000 hanging around)? Then come September 2013, you could be one of only 10 lucky people to get to drive the world’s fastest car, a Bugatti Veyron, 200 mph at Spaceport America. Check out the informational video – and our favorite part, the drivers-seat view of speeding […]

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cosmic shift accelerator: space travel

The Effects of Space Travel: Cosmic Shift Accelerator?

Check out this video of former astronauts describing the psychological effects of space travel. Source: Upworthy.com

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Virgin Galactic in WIRED magazine

Green Light on Informed Consent | Virgin Galactic in WIRED

Spaceport News the week of February 21, 2013: the Informed Consent bill, after “rocketing” through the New Mexico House of Representatives and the Senate , was due to land on the Governor’s desk, and WIRED Magazine is about to feature some great shots of Team Virgin at Spaceport America.

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Spaceport Executive Director Christine Anderson

Spaceport Newsletter

From Christine Anderson: “January has been an action packed month. We started out with our 18th vertical launch from the spaceport. We achieved a major milestone–we gave Virgin Galactic the keys to the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space on January 15 and correspondingly they started paying rent.”

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Informed Consent Bill

NM Senate Bill 240 – Informed Consent

Read the informed consent bill!

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JCrew photo shoot at Spaceport America

J. Crew at Spaceport America

Lookin’ good! (We’re talking to J. Crew, the model AND Spaceport America.) See all the photos of J. Crew at Spaceport America here!

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KRWG program on Spaceport America

Informed Consent: Spaceport America on PBS

Moderator Fred Martino conducted an interview with Virgin Galactic’s Mark Butler and Christine Anderson of Spaceport America on PBS / KRWG TV in Las Cruces.

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Tour Spaceport America

Spaceport Tour 2012 – a Visit to Spaceport America

Ohio’s News-Herald visited Spaceport America in 2012. The entire article (which includes the video below) is here: http://bit.ly/spaceport-visit-2012

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International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Space Flight

2012 International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight

Keynote Speakers for the 2012 ISPCS: Lori Garver, Deputy Administrator, NASA; BG Gwen Bingham, U.S. Army, Commanding General, White Sands Missile Range; Robert Dickman, Executive Director, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Roger Krone, President of Network and Space Systems, The Boeing Company; The Honorable Susana Martinez, Governor of the State of New Mexico

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a conceptual rendering of the Visitor / Welcome Center for Spaceport America, soon to be located in Truth or Consequences NM

Site Chosen for Spaceport America Welcome Center!

The site of the Spaceport America Visitor / Welcome Center will be in “uptown” Truth or Consequences.

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Virgin Airlines offers chance to win a ticket to space

Virgin’s Frequent Flyers Can Win A Ticket to Space!

Do you fly on Virgin Galactic?  If you do, here’s a reason to hang on to those frequent flyer miles!  As reported in US News & World Report, Virgin Airlines Frequent Flyers can earn a ticket to fly to space from Spaceport America: Here’s a video outlining the details of the offer…after the commercial of […]

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rocket launched from Spaceport America reaches record altitude

Rocket Reaches Record Altitude

Spaceport America officials announced that they successfully launched the 10th rocket from the launch site 35 miles southeast of Truth or Consequences / Elephant Butte on April 6, 2012 at approximately 8:18am. The rocket reached an altitude of 73 miles or 385,640 feet – a new Spaceport America altitude record. The primary payloads were reportedly […]

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Virgin Galactic logo

Virgin Galactic Gets Green Light for Powered Flight

Blog post from Virgin Galactic:”FAA Launch Permit Gives Virgin Galactic’s Space Vehicles the Green Light for Powered Flight“

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Stig-A early rocket launch at Spaceport America

STIG-A Rocket Launch

"Armadillo Aerospace launched its third STIG-A test rocket from Spaceport America to an altitude of about 50 miles (82 kilometers) on Jan. 28. A test of a balloon-parachute recovery system (“ballute”) was not fully successful, but the Armadillo team was nevertheless able to recover the vehicle. Armadillo says its next test launch will go beyond […]

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Gateway to Space dedication

Virgin Galactic Video: Dedicating the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space

Virgin Galactic’s video of the October 17, 2011 terminal hangar dedication at Spaceport America.

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Richard Branson dedicating Gateway to Space

“Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” Terminal Hangar Dedication

October 17, 2011 – Richard Branson dedicates the "Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space" (formerly known as the Spaceport America terminal hangar)

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Spaceport America

Spaceport America Featured in National Geographic’s “Megastructure” Series

October 2011, from the National Geographic Channel’s MEGASTRUCTURES Series “Spaceport America: Welcome to the world’s first spaceport where runways take you to space“

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Federal Grant Obtained for Spaceport America Infrastructure

August 29, 2011 blog post from SpaceRef.com: "Spaceport America Receives Repeat Federal Infrastructure Grant"

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NASA

Nasa Selects Virgin Galactic

August 10, 2011 press release from the Virgin Galactic Website: “Nasa Selects Virgin Galactic for Suborbital Flights“

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NPR.org

NPR on Spaceport America

July 18, 2011 article from NPR: "No Stranger to Spaceships, NM Builds a Spaceport"

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CNN on Spaceport America

CNN Visits Spaceport America

June 30, 2011 article from CNN: “Private Companies Hold the Key to Space Travel’s Future”

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Virgin Galactic Third Powered Flight January 2014

BBC Video – Virgin Galactic, Inside the Spaceship

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BBC on Spaceport America

BBC: Inside SpaceShipTwo

The media got its first look at the inside of SpaceShipTwo on March 30, 2011. See the article – which also includes a video of the reporter’s tour of the inside of the terminal hangar at Spaceport America – on the BBC website.

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Spaceport's Terminal Hangar Looking Good!

Terminal Hangar Facility in March 2011

A photo of the Spaceport America terminal hangar facility during construction phase.

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2010 Spaceport America runway dedication

Runway Dedication Ceremony

Video from Spaceport America of the Runway Dedication on October 22, 2010.

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Terminal Hangar Facility Takes Shape

From the Spaceport America website, an aerial shot of the Spaceport America Terminal Hangar Facility.

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Space Accredited Travel Agents come from all over the world to visit Spaceport America

Space-Accredited Travel Agents Visit New Mexico

60 “Space Accredited” Travel Agents from around the world visited Southern NM in early October. This photo was taken at the Spaceport America Terminal Hangar Facility.

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Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo

First Manned Free Flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceshipTwo

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo “VSS ENTERPRISE” completes its first manned free flight:

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Spaceport Terminal Hangar under construction, 2010

Spaceport America Terminal Hangar Under Construction

The New Mexico Tourism Commission visited Spaceport America in late May 2010. This photo is of the Terminal Hangar.

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AP photo by Dick Woodsum of the Spaceport America Runway

Spaceport America Runway Under Construction, March 2010

Aerial photograph of the Spaceport America Runway during construction phase AP PHOTO: Dick Woodsum

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hard hat tours

Hard Hat Tours to Spaceport America

Tours are being conducted to Spaceport America as construction allows. Cost is $59 per person; tour time is approximately 3 hours. Tours must be prebooked. This video about the tours aired on KRQE News 13:

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Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Roll-Out

Virgin Galactic rolled out SpaceShipTwo, the world’s first manned commercial spaceship, on December 7, 2009.

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lunar launch pads at Spaceport America

Lunar Launch Pads at Spaceport America

Three lunar lander launch pads were installed the week of June 22, 2009 at the future site of Spaceport America. New York Times wrote about it here: A New Exit to Space Readies for Business

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visitors to an early launch at the New Mexico Spaceport

Photos from a 2006 Rocket Launch at Spaceport America

photo collages by Moshe Koenick

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