Spaceport America Runway Dedication

White Knight Two flyover of Spaceport America Terminal carrying SpaceShipTwo
Image Credit: Barbara David

The two mile runway at Spaceport America in New Mexico was dedicated Friday, 22 October 2010. One of the highlights of the celebration was the flyover and landing of Virgin Galactic‘s White Knight Two carrying the rocket plane Space Ship Two, named Enterprise by Virgin Galactic.

Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, for whom the runway (spaceway) was officially named during the ceremony, commented that:

“We are celebrating the world’s first spaceway at the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport. New Mexico is not only helping to launch the commercial spaceflight industry, but we are launching new jobs and opportunities for the people of southern New Mexico. Today marks a significant milestone on our historic and exciting journey.”

Sir Richard Branson and approximately 30 of more than 380 Virgin Galactic future astronauts attended the event. Two of the future passengers in attendance were Sonja Rohde from Germany and Perveen Crawford of Hong Kong. Both have already paid the full $200,000 price for their flight into space. “It’s like Christmas, you want to go, you can’t wait. It was always a childhood dream to go to space,” Rohde said. Crawford noted that “It’s a bargain compared to the Russians,” referring to the roughly $35 million past space tourists have paid to ride aboard the Soyuz to the International Space Station.

Approach to Spaceport America
White Knight Two carrying Space Ship Two on Approach to Spaceport America
Image Credit: Virgin Galactic

Lee Jones Reporting From The New Mexico Space Port Ground Breaking

July 19th, 2009. A date that will forever change the way we view space flight. In the arid desert just west of the mountain range that defines the western border of the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, a group of about 420 space enthusiasts, press and dignitaries gather to witness an historic event. The ground breaking of the first commercial Spaceport on planet earth, Spaceport America was about to take place. With all eyes focused across the desert sands and brush, bright metallic figures approach from the not too distant east as spine chilling music played. Conquistadors! The first explorers to discover this great land called New Mexico approached. Commemorating the true spirit of exploration, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson among other distinguished dignitaries remember the legacy of spaceflight in its early beginnings just a short distance away. The first picture of planet earth from space was taken from a V2 rocket launched just a few miles away. A historic letter found in the New Mexico government archives was presented by Governor Richardson on behalf of this great state to Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic. This letter written by Governor jack Campbell in the early 1960’s and addressed to President John F. Kennedy stated; Dear President Kennedy. In light of this historic event, this great nation has now found its way to space. This is a true beginning that someday will evolve into commercial space transportation of people and cargo to space. Please consider the great state of New Mexico as that place where commercial space transportation should begin. This great visionary and the people of planet earth have now witnessed this dream come to pass. As each rocketeer scooped the desert sand and placed it in a small capsule, preparations were made to load the sand on to a rocket which ultimately closed the ceremony as it was launched toward space. Planet earth has now entered a new era in space travel and the sky is no longer the limit and commercial space is no longer a dream. It’s reality! 

Lee Jones 

Space Ambassador Program Director