Photos: Take a Tour of Spaceport America

Clara Moskowitz at Spaceport America

Clara Moskowitz/SPACE.com

In October 2011 SPACE.com reporter Clara Moskowitz toured Spaceport America, a new commercial space launching ground under construction in the Southern New Mexico desert.

Driving Toward the Spaceport

Clara Moskowitz/SPACE.com

Driving toward the spaceport, the hangar with its shell-like roof and a nearby dome building seem to blend into the scenery.

Truth or Consequences

Clara Moskowitz/SPACE.com

A building in the town of Truth or Consequences, the nearest population center to the isolated spaceport.

The Terminal Hangar

Clara Moskowitz/SPACE.com

First stop: the terminal hangar, the focal point of the $209 million facility.

Part of the Hangar

Clara Moskowitz/SPACE.com

The hangar was dedicated this month by Sir Richard Branson, whose Virgin Galactic is the anchor tenant of Spaceport America. Virgin Galactic plans to launch a fleet of suborbital space planes called SpaceShipTwo from here.

Central Building Under Construction

Clara Moskowitz/SPACE.com

Spaceport America officials plan to finish construction of this central building in 2012.

Spaceport Operations Center

Clara Moskowitz/SPACE.com

The dome-shaped Spaceport Operations Center will house offices and Mission Control.

"Eyebrow" of Mission Control

Clara Moskowitz/SPACE.com

Mission Controllers will watch flights out of the windows from the "eyebrow" feature on the right side of the building.

Spaceport Runway

Clara Moskowitz/SPACE.com

The spaceport also includes a 2-mile long (3.2 km), and 200-foot-wide (61 meter) runway for space planes to launch and land on.

Bill Richardson's Runway

Clara Moskowitz/SPACE.com

The runway is named after former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, who was instrumental in getting the Spaceport America project started.

Forecast: Dry and Clear

Clara Moskowitz/SPACE.com

New Mexico's dry and clear weather is a major selling point for the spaceport.

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