Postcard from Las Cruces

Deep in New Mexico's desert, state officials and Britain's top entrepreneur are building a business that's out of this world. An epic journey to the edge of space

URS / Foster + Partners

Tickets at Spaceport America (architect's rendering) will start at $200,000.

The coyotes have loped off, and the rattlesnakes have crawled under the construction trailers for shade and safety. Bulldozers have scraped away the mesquite to make a board-flat rectangle 10,000 ft. by 200 ft. Workers have begun putting down layers of gravel, packed earth, asphalt and concrete 42 in. thick to form a runway. The age of space tourism is here.

This expanse of high desert 35 miles southwest of Truth or Consequences, N.M., is the site of Spaceport America, a collaborative effort between the state and Richard Branson's space enterprise, Virgin Galactic, that hopes to send private citizens...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!