The New York Times returns to the site of the first future commercial spaceport and finds a project that is very much alive despite economic woes throughout the world:
Past a ranch that used to be a stage stop on an ancient trade route called El Camino Real… where rattlesnakes hibernate and rabbits scurry… unfolds a two-mile runway designed to accommodate spaceships. This is not a secret government project, or some NASA reception hall for alien dignitaries. This is Spaceport America, a $198 million endeavor by the State of New Mexico to plumb the commercial potential of the suborbital heavens — a place once known only to astronauts, dreamers and the occasional chimp.
About five years ago, things began to click. Since then, New Mexico has added the spaceport to its economic development plan; Virgin Galactic, the commercial space travel business of the British billionaire Richard Branson, has signed a 20-year lease; construction has begun; and 326 people have placed reservations for their trip to suborbital space. Virgin Galactic says it has received $44 million in deposits so far.
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