Virgin Galactic launches world's first commercial spaceport with performance by gravity-defying Project Bandaloop

[Video Link]

Man, if there's one thing Richard Branson knows better than anyone, it's how to put on an amazing launch event. Above, video from the Virgin Galactic kickoff for the world's first commercial spaceport, Spaceport America (alternate link), today in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Project Bandaloop did an aerial choreography performance from the side of the structure. Looked kind of like a really classy strip club in the sky. Branson himself joined the fun, and rappelled off the building during the ceremonies. The man knows how to have a good time.

Press release and photos from the event are here. From the sound of this Associated Press item, must have been a blast. (images: Mark Greenberg).

Previously on BB: "Virgin Galactic to unveil world's first commercial spaceport."


  1. This spaceport looks a lot different than the spaceports I used to see on the covers of Science Fiction paperbacks in the ’50’s.  No vertical V2 looking rockets, no flying cars, no people in weird costumes, etc.  It is wonderful to see reality catch up with fantasy.

  2. The fact that this comes so quickly upon the heels of the shuttle being retired points to an interesting fact: What was formerly accomplished by governments as a source of national pride is now being funded by private wealth exclusively for the benefit of the elites. The space program is mirroring the trend that the overall society has been headed for for decades.

    1. I think you’re missing the point here. Of course a project this bold, the very first commercial space flight venture actually open to the general public, will start out with very high costs. This is to be expected as everything is one of a kind, this has never been done before. You can’t go to Boeing and purchase a spaceship. Can you imaging the investment cost for something like Virgin Galactic? Therefore by necessity the first passengers will be the wealthy but they are in effect financing the future of commercial space flight for all of us. 

      The point of this venture isn’t to develop an exciting “ride” for the rich but to get the ball rolling in a nascent industry that is just beginning thanks to people like Branson. The R&D that comes out of ventures like this one will undoubtedly shape the future of transportation for all of us. In fact Branson has said himself that for every $10K a ticket’s price is reduced the larger the customer demographic will become. Eventually we’ll being flying from NY to London in 2 hours for the price of a first class ticket. Too bad there aren’t more entrepreneurs like Branson out there…

      1. Is that the kind of trickle down development we’re supposed to be excited about?  Investment and initiative of the 99.9999% for the benefit of the 99.99%?  The future of transportation is not in reducing flight times for the executive class, it’s in finding ways to ensure that by the time a billion chinese can afford to fuck up the atmosphere (in the american tradition of a car for everyone) they’ll enjoy cheaper, cleaner transportation options and leapfrog the dirty technologies of the present. That’s a future I can get excited about.

      2. Maybe it’ll succeed where commercial supersonic transatlantic flight has failed, isn’t it a pity that 35 years after the start of Concorde’s flights that we are not able to fly across the Atlantic in 3 hours?

        Not that it ever became “affordable” to the majority of travellers of course.

    2. Huh? Formerly? Just because the shuttles have been retired doesn’t mean the space program has been shut down. This is an addition, not a replacement.

      I see this as a first step for something that actually could be affordable for everyone. And I’m giddy about it! I honestly and truly wish them a safe trip to space. I’m green of envy, but because of them, perhaps one day…

      Oh, and thank you mr Branson, for having a passion for adventure! You have pushed our frontiers, in your own way, a bit further!

  3. Best way to fleece a quarter million outta the idle rich that I’ve ever seen! And it takes only an hour or so!

    99.99999% of the working or protesting world will never get to board one of his fantastic flights.

  4. So, I am not wise enough to predict the future very far… but I have read a lot of science fiction where governments led the way into space.  In those dystopian versions, space is highly militarized.  In another set of hypothetical dystopian futures, access to space is highly corporatized.

    In the future I want to live in, space is the ocean and access to space is about as hard as access to the sea is today: buying a boat and learning to stay alive in it are non-trivial but do-able, for anyone determined enough.

    1. You and me both…

      (or, at the very least easy access to lightly-regulated fractional ballistic transport that one can own).

  5.   Space Port cost  is $200,000,000. There are 2,000,000 New Mexicans so each New Mexican kicked in at least $100 apiece so a few, very rich, people could have some fun. 

    I don’t mind that there are very rich people who can afford the $200,000 ticket price. I do mind that a government can freely reach into the average Joe’s pocket to subsidize very expensive fun and use bogus economic impact studies to justify their squandering public funds.

     Somebody should #Occupy the governor’s office.   

    1. Actually, only part of the spaceport was paid for by New Mexico taxpayers. Moreover, they paid the taxes by individual approval of each county neighboring the spaceport, and they did so by referendum. So the people of New Mexico made a conscious individual decision as voters to help fund this project. 

      1. Yep. $115,000,000 was paid by all New Mexico taxpayers, $25,000,000 by Federal taxpayers  and the remaining $60,000,000 burden was picked up by the 3 surrounding counties. Only the 3 counties were polled  but all Federal and New Mexico taxpayers are paying. 
        And for what? The plane and rocket are designed to fly in and out of any ordinary airport. Space flight could just as easily fly out of any coastal airport and nobody, except the passengers, would be in harm’s way if there was an accident. A no vote wouldn’t have squelched space travel – it just wouldn’t have been as glitzy. The average state income ranks in the bottom 10 states nationwide. So you have people from the poorest 20%  underwriting joyrides for the top 1% to further enrich a billionaire.Brilliant.

        1. They have the (WOO-WOO) Fyoooture to look forward to, as well. One where their grandchildren work from the age of 12 (after six  years of useless, corporately-funded “Skool”), six days a week, fifteen hours a day, to pay for their parents’ cancer treatments (EVERYONE in the mid-21st century has cancer; the food’s laced with a viral form).

  6. Well now we realize that NASA really should have paid more attention to aesthetics in their designs.  Publicity is good for both governmental and privatized spaceports is it not?  That second pic (“spaceport” in the sunset) is quite sexy, perhaps they should pay Jim Burns (
    something in royalties?  Easier to to make the “spaceport” sexy than it is the “spaceship”.  Is this not a glorified airport?  If I m wrong, please let me know, but isnt this “spaceplane” still basically suborbital?
    Actually this whole thing reminds me of a hero invented by a famourz author who I believe collaborated with Mr. Asimov.

  7. it’s like a james bond movie where he first visits the villain’s lair and the villain is having some crazy party with that going on

      1. Don’t forget how the story ended for Delos…

        A small museum and a short boat ride to the nude beach?

  8. wonder if he “borrowed” those performers from Guy Laliberte (founder of Cirque de Soliel), another uber-wealthy billionaire space enthusiast? please let’s hope he paid them a decent living wage for the gig… most dancers and circus performers live at or below the poverty line.

  9. Yeah its a toy for the rich and elete to spend more money then i will see in my life
    Yes  it was funded by public money for no reason other then to create a minor tourist attraction
    You bet i will never set foot on it.

    Yet its still awesome.

  10. Since 1980 we’ve been hell-bent on going back to the XIX century as fast as possible, so these giant undertakings will come up more and more. Remember that, when they were first built, most of the private and public buildings in England were “toys for the ultra-rich”, including churches and museums. 

    Obviously, trickle-down didn’t work then either — it took a couple of world-scale wars and a revolution in Russia before middle and working classes could enshrine a few progressive principles in law and spur massive growth in commerce and technology — but eventually we all got to enjoy those princely country estates and palaces (well, at least in Europe we did).

    So +1 to 99% / Occupy and +1 to Branson as well, they will eventually merge in our common reality in a few decades, as long as we keep up the fight.

  11. Reading these comments, all I can say is, jeezus, it’s no wonder you people don’t have rocket belts and flying cars yet.

  12. So many are missing the point of this post. It’s about a space port. An awesome sci-fi space port. The cost will come down, just as it did with airplane tickets.  Although it might take a decade or two, it’s possible that I will be able to visit space without being an astronaut. That’s crazy.

  13. Cool, but I didn’t see anywhere on their website that one could actually buy a ticket on this thing. I think this is a money-laundering front for Richard Branson’s massive medical marijuana grow operation.

    1. I didn’t see anywhere on their website that one could actually buy a ticket on this thing.

      You book airplane tickets through the airline, not through the airport. Space plane tickets are no different:

      Granted, it doesn’t look like you can just plug in your credit card information to order a ticket directly through their site, but very few $200k purchases can be made that way.

  14. Minor point –

    The Spaceport and the event are/were not in Las Cruces, despite the Spaceport Authority offices there.  The Spaceport is nearer to the settlement of Upham, NM, southeast of Truth or Consequences (locals say ‘T or C’).   The google maps coordinates you want are roughly 32.990278,-106.969722 .  This is roughly 2 1/2 hrs from Las Cruces via car, or 3 1/2 hours from Albuquerque on the Jornada del Muerto.

    P.S. – how cool could it have been as the Jornada del Muerto Spaceport?

Comments are closed.