The future of travel is uncertain. High speed rail has taken off around the world, but keeps running into delays in the United States. Boeing and Airbus both have their own visions for the future of airlines, but their concepts are years away from implementation. My personal favorite vision for the future, 4,000 mph vacuum tube MAGLEV trains, is so far away and so uncertain that I may not see it in my lifetime.
But out in New Mexico, the people behind Spaceport America (where I was a recent guest) have an idea for the future of travel, and they’ve already started on it.
Spaceport America is the first purposefully built commercial spaceport in the world. They haven’t commissioned an old military base and they are not using government built facilities. They have their own horizontal and vertical launch facilities, open for commercial use at a cost much less than using government facilities. And one of the first companies to move in? Virgin Galactic!
Virgin Galactic aims to make commercial space flight a reality, bringing the cost down while not sacrificing safety. Ten years ago, space tourism consisted of extensive cosmonaut training and an estimated $20 million. Now, you can fly to space for $200,000 and 3 days of training. Imagine the airmiles you’d get!
Virgin Galactic is about to complete construction on their terminal at Spaceport America. Designed to house their hanger with two spaceships (The WhiteKnightTwo mothership which helps launch SpaceshipTwo) back to back, as well as training facilities and a place for visitors and astronauts to learn more about this history of space travel and get ready for their flights.
Since the facilities at Spaceport America are still under construction, unprecedented access to the facility before it begins operation are available via Follow The Sun Tours. Boarding the three hour tour in Truth or Consequences, NM, your guide will offer a wealth of history about not only the Spaceport, but also the surrounding areas, including Elephant Butte Park, nearby White Sands Missile Range, the history of early space flight and tests (think Chuck Yeager and Joe Kittinger), and more. Once at the Spaceport, you’re treated to close up views of the facilities as well as a drive down the two mile long, 10,000 ft. wide runway. Anyone with even a slight interest in space travel will love this tour.
Be sure to call ahead of your visit. If the runway is currently being utilized, you may have limited access. A few weeks before my visit, Boeing was testing an unmanned helicopter on the runway and it was off limits. A vertical launch would be great to see, but for obvious reasons you may not be able to get too close.
Again, tours meet in Truth or Consequences, a town just over two hours south of Albuquerque. If you want to see the future of travel today, a visit to Spaceport America is a must!
To receive a free copy of our ebook, 70 Secrets to Safe Travel — Because Your Life Can Change in a Heartbeat, and for more travel savvy info to help you travel smarter, safer and with more enjoyment, visit SmartWomenTravelers.com and PearlsofTravelWisdom.com.