Out of all the places on planet Earth, where do you suppose the first commercial spaceport is going to be built? New Mexico, of course! It makes perfect sense because one of the most famous unidentified flying objects (UFOs) allegedly crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. The story goes that a “flying disc” crashed near Roswell and the military immediately took control of the site, revealing that it was simply a classified, advanced weather/radar balloon from a U.S. Air Force program named Mogul. After 50 years, people are still telling stories about the crash—and that includes retired military personnel.
The people of Upham, New Mexico, will have entirely new tales to tell as British industrialist Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (yes, that is his full name), best known for his Virgin Group (comprised of more than 360 companies), comes to town.
Branson started his entrepreneurial endeavors at the age of 16, after dropping out of high school to publish a successful magazine, entitled Student. After the magazine, he created a mail-order audio record business that transformed into Virgin Records, which eventually begot Virgin Megastores. The explosive growth of Branson’s business paved the way for Virgin Atlantic Airways and further expansion of the Virgin Records label, which leads us to his latest bleeding-edge business, Virgin Galactic.
Estimated to be the 212th richest person in the world, according to Forbes’s 2010 “The World’s Billionaires” list (http://www.forbes.com/lists/2010/10/billionaires-2010_Richard-Branson_2Y7I.html). Branson, joined by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, staff of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA), and roughly 30 of Virgin Galactic’s more than 380 future astronauts, recently dedicated the world’s first spaceway (runway for space vehicles) at Spaceport America.
“We are celebrating the world’s first spaceway at the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport,” said Governor Richardson at the event. “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.”
This geek could not agree more!
Read part one of the Virgin Galactic series of blogs.