The spaceport is located about 30 miles outside of town. The State of New Mexico is building a visitor center in Truth or Consequences.
Spaceport America and the nearby town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico are a perfect match: a Western town that can sometimes feel like another planet, and a terminal from which passengers depart for outer space.
Hot Springs, New Mexico changed its name to Truth or Consequences (or T or C as the residents call it) in 1950 to win a contest posed by a radio show of the same name. The host pledged to air the radio show in the first town that changed its name to Truth or Consequences. Although there have been referendums held since to change the name back to Hot Springs, none has yet passed.
Virgin Galactic is the anchor tenant of Spaceport America, and has exclusive use of the main terminal, now named the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space. The terminal will house Virgin's WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, and SpaceShipTwo when operational flights begin. It is here that customers will suit up and prepare for their flight to space.
Spaceport America was built in the high desert, surrounded by buffalo ranches owned by Ted Turner. As you approach the spaceport, it's easy to miss the main terminal. It was designed to blend in with its historic landscape and preserve the surrounding rancher community.
Today, Truth or Consequences is home to about 6,000 residents.
As spaceport passengers file into the main terminal for their flight, hidden doors hiss open to welcome them.
Horizontal launch will be the main attraction when Virgin Galactic begins operation, but small suborbital research launches are already taking place now. The facility's vertical launch range is about four miles southwest of the main terminal.
In 2009, the state of New Mexico held the official ground-breaking ceremony for the world's first commercial space launch site,
Spaceport America. Located about 20 miles from the city of Truth or Consequences, the spaceport is largely complete. Virgin Galactic will set up its headquarters there, eventually launching customers into suborbital flights aboard SpaceShipTwo. Other commercial space companies may follow.
Dan Hendrickson recently toured the area to capture the futuristic scene emerging from the Western landscape.
Images and captions by Dan Hendrickson.