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Virgin Galactic file photo of the VSS Enterprise being carried by its mothership VMS Eve over Spaceport America in New Mexico. Virgin Galactic/Jeffrey Vock

Virgin Galactic opens world's first spaceport in New Mexico

The company, which aims to become the world’s first commercial spaceline, plans to launch its first space flight within a year.

RICHARD BRANSON’S Virgin Galactic is opening the world’s first commercial spaceport in New Mexico today.

Those who have signed up for the first of the company’s space flights will join Branson and his Galactic team at Spaceport America in New Mexico today.

On his blog today, Branson described today’s event as “a momentous occasion and another big step for our great adventure”.

Virgin Galactic announced last week that NASA had booked a charter suborbital flight from the New Mexico operation and the deal includes options for two additional flights; the total contract is worth $4.5 million (€3.26 million). The company also recently announced the appointment of former NASA executive Michael Moses as its vice president of operations.

Virgin Galactic, which aims to become the world’s first commercial spaceline, is planning to launch its first flight from the New Mexico base within the coming year. It says that each space mission has space for up to 1,300lbs of scientific equipment.

For anyone interested in catching one of the space flights, tickets cost $200,000 and you can book online or through any of the accredited space agents (the nearest agents to Ireland are based in the UK). Around 430 have booked already, according to the company.

The company released this footage of the first ‘feather’ flight of its SpaceShipTwo spacecraft earlier this year. It can carry six passengers and two pilots:

- Additional reporting by the AP

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