Richard Branson Dedicates Spaceport America's First Runway
Sir Richard Branson was all smiles in New Mexico on October 22 as he and Governor Bill Richardson were on hand to open the world's first commercial spaceport in New Mexico. Spaceport America will be used by Virgin Galactic, Branson's space tourism company. The first commercial flights from the spaceport are planned to happen within the next 18 months.
The event included a fly by with an aircraft carrying SpaceShip Two, the spacecraft which recently had its first solo test flight. For Branson, this is the realization of a long-held dream and Richardson proclaimed the event "a great day for the state of New Mexico." Tickets for the suborbital space rides aboard SpaceShipTwo cost $200,000 and the 150-minute flights will give space tourists around five minutes of weightlessness. Virgin Galactic has said that it already has more than $50 million in reservations for the flights.
One downside is that, as AOL News reported, a recent study shows that space travel could ramp up the speed of global warming. The engines on these ships produce more black carbon than normal engines and if the company launches regular, frequent space trips, the ships could deposit a layer of soot high in the stratosphere. The effects of regular space travel on ozone production could be seen in just 10 years.
Check out video of the dedication featuring Governor Richardson and Sir Richard Branson after the jump.