New Mexico Spaceport Designs Unveiled

New Mexico Spaceport Designs Unveiled
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SpaceShipOne, seen here, is the first privately funded spacecraft. In June 2004 the vehicle won the 10-million-U.S.-dollar Ansari X Prize by exceeding an altitude of 328,000 feet (100,000 meters) twice in two weeks.

The ship's creator, Burt Rutan, is building news ships for space-tourism company Virgin Galactic, which will operate out of Spaceport America. Virgin's order includes five spaceships and two launch vehicles.

The launch vehicles will carry the spaceships to 50,000 feet (15,240 meters), at which point the spaceships will rocket on under their own power.

Designs for the SpaceShipTwo line, which will carry six passengers and two pilots, will be unveiled next year. But Virgin Galactic already has a waiting list of 200 people. Each has paid all or part of the $200,000 price tag for a two-and-a-half hour trip that will carry him or her 84 miles (135 kilometers) from Earth's surface.

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—Photograph by Scaled Composites/Getty Images
 
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