In a previously abandoned hangar in the middle of the New Mexico desert, Virgin Galactic is preparing the world's first spaceport, to allow the takeoffs and landings of space tourism missions.
It will have a room for mission control, a section for the preparations of the pilots and a lobby for family and friends of passengers, all in a two-level building and futuristic design.
Behind two huge gates there is a huge space, enough to store two Virgin Galactic aircraft and a fleet of rockets capable of carrying six passengers.
The mystery is when the Virgin Galactic center will be available to launch the first commercial trips to space. The company says it must first perform a small number of tests.
Billionaire Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson were the first to delineate the plan for the spaceport, 15 years ago.
The initiative was hindered by delays in construction and excessive expenses. The development of the spacecraft took longer than anticipated and suffered a severe setback in 2014 when its first experimental capsule disintegrated during the test flight and the co-pilot died.
Critics and complaints rained that the project was nothing more than a personal excess, but supporters insisted that like any unprecedented ambitious initiative, it was inevitable that there would be stumbling blocks at the beginning.
In recent days, Virgin Galactic published on social networks that its main cargo plane had landed in New Mexico and that the base of operations was now located in the spaceport. Branson announced that the space rocket's wings were ready and that the company was building several of those aircraft.
Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said that once the test flights were completed, commercial operations would begin.
"This is a time for which we have waited a long time and are very excited to have arrived here," Whitesides said in a message posted on social networks.
Some 600 people have booked tickets to go to space, according to the company. Each ticket costs $ 250,000.
For that price, the passenger will travel in a rocket that will be launched into space by the cargo plane. Once demarcated, the rocket will ignite its thrusters to advance towards the limit of the stratosphere, before descending.
The most recent test flight reached an altitude of 90 kilometers (56 miles) and traveled at a speed equivalent to three times that of sound.
Source: AP Agency