Truth or Consequences, New Mexico
By Lucy Nicholson

Spaceport America's Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space Building is seen near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Having just trundled past cattle and tumbleweed through the high desert red plains of southern New Mexico, Elizabeth Mixon stepped off a tour bus to face the future.

A tourist photographs Spaceport Operations Center at Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

She breathed in the dry air at the edge of Spaceport America and imagined the adventure of the first tourists destined to launch from the nearly quarter-billion-dollar facility.

“If you got up there, it would just be you and God,” she exclaimed with a smile on her face. “Wouldn’t that be cool?”

The main runway mission control is seen at Spaceport near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico May

Mixon won’t be along for the $250,000 ride. At 83 and legally blind, she is only here for the tour, one of the many dreamers exploring this dusty outpost where Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic plans to launch one of the world’s first suborbital commercial spaceships as early as this year.

A firetruck is parked outside Spaceport Operations Center at Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

Spaceport America spokesman David Wilson envisions a launching off point for global travel, to build tourist resorts in space, colonize Mars and mine resources on other planets. He expects around 200,000 visitors to the spaceport each year, which was bankrolled by the state.