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World’s First “Space Tourists” Will Launch From New Mexico

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Spaceport America, the world’s first facility designed exclusively to launch commercial spacecraft, opened on Friday just 3 hours south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Among the dignitaries in attendance were Governor Bill Richardson, Buzz Aldrin, who walked on the moon in 1969 and Sir Richard Branson, whose company, Virgin Galactic, will fly paying passengers into space. All that remains for Virgin Galactic is more rocket testing on SpaceShipTwo and launching it into space for a test flight. Branson predicts the first passenger flights will begin within the next 9-18 months. Branson promised he would be on one of the first flights.

Up until now, only government-trained astronauts and a few passengers who paid Russia millions to fly to the International Space Station have been into space. Virgin Galactic will charge the relative paltry sum of $200,000 to be one of six passengers on the new spacecraft. Almost 400 people have already made deposits totaling $50 Million Dollars to be among the first space tourists.

The State of New Mexico, who owns the facility, is recruiting other companies who are involved in space research and payload delivery, such as launching communication and weather satellites.

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