Virgin Galactic unveils world’s first commercial spaceport

19 Oct 2011
spaceport Steps towards commercial space tourism have been taken with the opening of the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, Spaceport America in New Mexico. The US$209-million spaceport was built as part of an agreement between Virgin Galactic and New Mexico officials six years ago. Functioning as a combined terminal and hangar facility, the spaceport's "Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space”  can house two WhiteKnightTwo jet-powered cargo aircrafts, and five SpaceShipTwo spacecrafts. The facility also has a mission control centre and astronaut preparation amenities. Sub-orbital spaceflights will take place with the WhiteKnightTwo, which will be used to launch the SpaceShipTwo spacecraft into the orbit. The SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots. In addition, there will be a two-day pre-flight training at the spaceport for passengers. The training will cover basic emergency response to ensure passengers are mentally and physically prepared for high g-force levels. It will also teach them how to make the most of their time in zero gravity during the flight. In total, over 150 Virgin Galactic customers from 21 countries have made their deposits for the pioneering space flight, while 450 future astronauts worldwide have signed on to join Virgin Galactic for their space voyages. The two-and-a-half hour spaceflight with Virgin Galactic costs US$200,000. The WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipsTwo will continue to undergo flight tests through 2012 and are expected to begin commercial flights soon after. For more information, visit Tiffany Sandrasageran 
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