Is sending rich people into space the future of our economy, or a disaster in the making? The $200 billion Spaceport in the New Mexican desert is ready to open its doors, although the first voyage from Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has been pushed back for another year at least. The Herald-Sun writes:
New Mexico Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson says it will be New Mexico’s Sydney Opera House. Virgin Galactic Chairman Richard Branson has hinted it will host the first of his new brand of lifestyle hotels. And the eclectic hot springs town of Truth or Consequences has been anxiously awaiting all the economic development the $200 billion project is supposed to bring to this largely rural part of southern New Mexico.
Currently, the Spaceport can count on two rocket companies that send vertical payloads into space and Virgin Galactic, the Branson space tourism venture that says it has signed up more than 500 wealthy adventurers for $US200,000 ($192,000)-per-person spaceflights. To date, nine spaceports are planned around the US, mostly at existing airports, and another 10 have been proposed, according to a recent report from the New Mexico Spaceport Authority.
The eclectic hot springs town of Truth or Consequences has been anxiously awaiting all the economic development the $200 billion project is supposed to bring to this largely rural part of southern New Mexico. But as phase one of Spaceport America, the world’s first commercial port built specifically for sending tourists and payloads into space, is nearing completion, the only new hotel project that has been finalised is a Holiday Inn Express about 40 kilometres away. Meanwhile, Branson’s estimate for a first manned flight has been pushed back until late 2013 at the earliest.