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Virgin Galactic Could Bring Jobs to Rural NM

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PHOTO: New Mexico's rural economy could get a boost after Virgin Galactic starts its flights into outer space. Photo courtesy of NASA.
PHOTO: New Mexico's rural economy could get a boost after Virgin Galactic starts its flights into outer space. Photo courtesy of NASA.
December 9, 2013

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. - New Mexico's rural economy could get a boost after Virgin Galactic starts its flights into space. The company founded by Sir Richard Branson is expected to start flying passengers into the final frontier next summer from Spaceport America. The launch site is located about 30 miles from Truth or Consequences (T or C) and is near the White Sands Missile Range.

Truth or Consequences City Commissioner Steven Green said he expects hundreds, maybe thousands, of new jobs to be created by the tourism.

"I think there's enough business that Virgin Galactic will create, directly and indirectly, that we will all be very, very happy," Green said.

Tourism has increased since Spaceport America opened, he added, due to people watching the regular rocket launches. According to its website, Spaceport America has clients, including NASA, and "is the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport designed to enable affordable, efficient and effective space access and unlock the potential of space for everyone."

The Virgin Galactic flights involve a spaceship, attached to an airplane, that is released at high altitude and then heads into space. A seat on a Virgin Galactic flight will cost $250,000. According to the company's website, more than 600 people have made deposits for space flights.

Green said any concern that Truth or Consequences will lose its small town charm is outweighed by the potentially positive economic impact.

"Here you have an opportunity for a small community such as T or C to enhance itself by having an increase of visitation - of visitors - coming in," Green enthused.

Truth or Consequences' economy is largely dependent upon on tourism, but Green said there is also farming and ranching in the region.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM