Work on the spaceport is underway, and its innovative design has already been revealed. It's the first purpose built commercial spaceport. The flights will begin after “SpaceShip Two” completes its test flights in the new airfield.
In the flights planned to fly out of spaceport, a spacecraft will be attached to an aircraft which will carry it to 15 kilometers, and from there it will be launched into space.
The company plans to take 50,000 customers into space during its first decade of operations. Tickets will cost $200,000 per person, and include three days of pre-flight preparation in order to prepare for the microgravity and macrogravitiy and a two hour flight, in which the passengers will be launched outside the Earth's atmosphere at a speed of 4,000km/h to a height of 112km (for comparison, high altitude spy planes do not fly about 25 km). At this point the passengers will enjoy four minutes of microgravity flight, and a view of planet Earth.
The spacecraft is built to carry six astronauts and two pilots on every flight. The seats on the first flight will be taken by the family of the famous millionaire Sir Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Galactic, which is building the spaceport.
According to the agreement, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) will build facilities on the site including takeoff and landing runways, emergency facilities, fuel storage and delivery, security, an observation area for visitors, restaurants etc. Virgin Galactic will lease facilities, including a terminal, medical facilities, a control tower, a staff pavilion and offices.
The construction costs of the spaceport are 225 million dollars. 22 of the facilities have already been finalized, including training facilities, air traffic control, area control, hangars, ground facilities, terminals, and an observation site for the public.
The first model of SpaceShip Two was inaugurated in October 2006 and test flights will begin at the end of 2007.
Richard Branson stated, whilst announcing the opening of Spaceport America, that “When the Spaceport has been built, it will function as the global headquarters for a fleet of up to five spacecraft and their launch aircraft".
Hundreds of people from around the world have registered for commercial space flights with Virgin Galactic. Included in the list of passengers is Stephen Hawking, the renowned British physicist.