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UPHAM — British billionaire and Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson could see the gently curving roof line and unfinished steel shell of Spaceport America rising from the desert as his jet banked overhead.
It’s in this remote part of southern New Mexico, where Branson’s dream of reaching space may soon come to fruition.
Branson, the head of Virgin Group, which counts airlines, entertainment and mobile communications among its many businesses, visited recently for a tour of the spaceport and the dedication of its nearly two-mile-long runway.
It’s the world’s first dedicated spaceport, which aims to become ground zero for the burgeoning commercial spaceflight industry.
“This is history, we’re making it right here,” Branson, 60, told a crowd of about 800 people,
including aspiring space tourists who have already paid a deposit for their chance to go into suborbital space.
Virgin Galactic is the anchor tenant of the taxpayer-funded $198 million spaceport.
It plans to use the facility to take tourists on what will first be short hops into space. State officials want to add companies for other commercial space endeavors, such as research and payload delivery, once the spaceport’s terminal and hangar are complete next spring.
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