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...

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