|Branson hopes enough powered test flights of Virgin Galactics sleek spacecraft can be done by the end of 2012 to start commercial suborbital flights from the spaceport soon after.|
The $209 million taxpayer-financed spaceport will be a launch station for people and payloads on the rocket ships being developed for Virgin Galactic.
The building will house Virgin Galactics spacecraft, mission control and a preparation area for travelers.
About 150 people already booked for travel on the first flights to orbit attended the event, said the company.
In the meantime, Virgin has sold some 430 tickets for space travel -- at $200,000 a pop -- for an estimated $86 million.
The Virgin Group owner hopes that enough powered test flights of the spacecraft can be done by the end of 2012 to start commercial sub-orbital flights from the spaceport soon after.
With custom metal paneling and massive panes of glass, the state-of-the-art terminal rises from the desert floor to face the nearly 2-mile concrete runway.
|A number of private companies are rushing to fill the gap left by NASA, which ended its 30-year shuttle program in July with the completion of the final Atlantis mission to the International Space Station.|