New private spaceport under construction in New Mexico

NPR reports on America’s first private spaceport under construction in the southern New Mexico town of Upham. Spaceport America was supposed to be finished by early 2011, and the state has put $200 million into the project.

Riding into space will set you back $200,000:

“Our anchor tenant is Virgin Galactic, so we already have one very strong customer coming to the spaceport,” Andersen says. As the shuttle program winds down and military budgets tighten, Andersen thinks it’s the right time and place for the spaceport.

According to the company’s website, tickets for a Virgin Galactic trip into space cost $200,000. Some critics scoff at staking the state’s job creation on what amounts to be a few, very expensive, carnival rides.

“Well, that’s the space tourism part, so those are the actual six passengers that get to ride in the spaceship,” Andersen says. “We’re going to have a lot of interesting other things that have to do with space, and I think people will be very excited about that.”