Last weekend, Sir Richard Branson, Governor Bill Richardson and others gathered in the middle of a desert outside of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, to dedicate the two-mile-long "Governor Bill Richardson Spaceway" at the nearly-completed Spaceport America, the world's first commercial spaceport. As Space Shuttle Discovery prepares for its final flight, here's a look at what promises to be the future of space travel.
Moving away from the Space Shuttle program that has been in operation for nearly three decades now, NASA has focused its efforts on developing a new spacecraft that can bring passengers to the Moon and Mars. But that program -- called Project Constellation -- could soon come to an end. Earlier this year, President Obama proposed cutting funding to Constellation; he asked private corporations to step up and oversee the development of the next low-orbit vehicles.
"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," Richardson said, according to a press release put out by Virgin Galactic. "Today marks a significant milestone on our historic and exciting journey."