Sunday’s Spaceport America launch to increase New Mexico tourism

El Paso News

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) – This weekend, Virgin Galactic’s first fully crew spaceflight with founder Sir Richard Branson is lifting off from New Mexico’s Spaceport America.

The State of New Mexico said industry estimates for the suborbital space tourism market could be worth $8 billion by 2030.

State officials said this flight is the future of space tourism as the New Mexico Tourism Department teams up with Virgin Galactic.

The ship named “Unity” will be taking off of Spaceport America, which sits in the desert somewhere between Las Cruces and Truth or Consequences.

“New Mexico has always been a hub for exploration, and the dawn of space tourism is happening right here,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Branson will be on that first fully crewed spaceflight. Once his flight hits the edge of space, they’ll have about 3 minutes to float in weightless.

“At that moment, we will have become astronauts. I will pinch myself. And– and pinch myself again and again,” said Branson during an exclusive interview with The Today Show.

He will be testing the astronaut experience. It’s a once in a lifetime experience he hopes to share with civilians.

“And when we return, I will announce something very exciting to give more people a chance to become astronauts because space does belong to us all,” said Branson.

About 700 people have signed up to go to space on a Virgin Galactic spaceship. The tickets costing about $250,000.

The spaceflight is expected to lift off from New Mexico Sunday at 7AM.

It will be live streamed and state officials say people worldwide watching the livestream will see New Mexico True prominently featured throughout the experience.

You can watch the live stream by clicking here.

Days after Branson’s flight, on July 20, Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos and his space company Blue Origin are set to take off from the desert area near Van Horn.

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