Guests gathered to create a celebratory atmosphere in the street outside the new Spaceport America Visitor Center located in the historic hot-springs district of the City of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
Christine Anderson, Chief Executive Officer, Spaceport America was joined for the ribbon cutting ceremony by Mayor Sandra Whitehead, Mayor Pro-Tem Steve Green and City Manager Juan Fuentes from the City of Truth or Consequences along with Rose and Mark Bleth, co-founders of Follow The Sun, Inc., Spaceport America’s official tour operator.
Spaceport America is the first FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) licensed commercial spaceport that was built specifically to be a commercial spaceport. This fact empowered Spaceport America to develop the vision of what future spaceports may look like.
“We wanted Spaceport America to be a place where the public can have a hands-on, authentic and fun experience inside a real commercial space launch facility–an experience you can’t get anywhere else,” emphasized Christine Anderson, CEO. “To that end, we have created the Spaceport America Experience so that our guests will learn more about space travel, about Spaceport America, and about New Mexico’s role in enabling commercial space.”
Located in a historic adobe building with original features from the 1930’s, the visitor center offers a wonderful contrast of the old frontier meeting the new. Packed with exciting educational and interactive space exhibits, visitors can reserve or purchase tour tickets and official Spaceport America merchandise prior to journeying out to the Spaceport America site.
“We are delighted to welcome the new Spaceport America Visitor Center and visitors from across New Mexico and the globe to the City of Truth or Consequences,” said Sandra Whitehead, Mayor. “Both the educational and economic benefits to our community will be significant and we value the opportunity to be a part of this inspiring, futuristic offering.”
George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company delivered an inspirational speech about the impact of commercial spaceflight on future generations prior to guests boarding rolling theater shuttles for the one-hour journey out to the Spaceport America site. While underway, Spaceport America crewmembers, supported by onboard multimedia, shared local knowledge about the historic El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Trail, the Armendaris Ranch, the old Ghost Town of Engle and the region both past and present.
After arriving to the secure facility and a short walk up the Astronaut Walk, guests entered the Gateway Gallery and many chose to experience the G–Shock simulator that subjects the would-be astronaut to rapid acceleration comparable to what an actual astronaut might feel in flight. Guests were also able to venture into the Spaceport Operations Center (SOC) and interact with Spaceport America crewmembers and the state-of-the-art fire station before taking a cruise down the Spaceport’s main runway – Spaceway 16-34.
“While Spaceport America was under construction, we offered what we called Hard-hat Tours and more recently Preview Tours,” explained Rose Bleth, CEO and Founder of Follow The Sun, Inc. “It’s now very rewarding to be able to open the new Spaceport America Experience Tour to visitors from around the world.”
Later guests disembarked from the rolling theater shuttles humming to the tune of “I Want to be an Astronaut” the official grand opening song of the Spaceport America Experience tour, composed by Gregg Young, performed by Gregg Young and the 2nd Street Band.
The City of Truth or Consequences and Follow The Sun Tours, Inc. will be hosting a Spaceport America Visitor Center Community Open House tomorrow, Thursday, June 25, 2015 starting at 10:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The event will be open to the public and everyone is encouraged to attend. Location: Spaceport America Visitor Center, Lee Belle Johnson Building, 301 S. Foch St., Truth or Consequences, N.M. 87901.