Sierra County: Home of Spaceport America

Some of the most respected companies in the commercial space industry are tenants at Spaceport America, including Virgin GalacticHAPSMobile, AeroVironmentUP Aerospace, and SpinLaunch.

Spaceport America FAQs

What is it?

  • Spaceport America is the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport designed and constructed specifically for commercial users. What differentiates Spaceport America from other spaceports is that the facility had not previously been used as an airport or federal infrastructure of any kind.
  • The site is built to accommodate both vertical and horizontal launch aerospace vehicles, as well as an array of non-aerospace events and commercial activities.
  • Spaceport America is not owned by Sir Richard Branson, as has been frequently misreported in the media. The facility is owned and operated by the State of New Mexico.
  • Tenants of Spaceport America include Virgin Galactic, EXOS Aerospace Systems and Technologies, SpaceX and UP Aerospace.
  • Spaceport America has been used as the setting for film and commercial production (including this Toyota commercial that aired during the 2019 Superbowl)
  • The facility is frequently used for STEM education projects for students of all ages.
  • Spaceport America was designed and built utilizing the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED NCv2.2 program as the framework for the sustainable development of the facility. The LEED Rating System is generally recognized as being the most prominent set of sustainability guidelines in the United States by emphasizing strategies for sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection, and indoor environmental quality.

Where is it?

Why is it in Sierra County?

  • Spaceport America is situated on 18,000 acres adjacent to the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range and boasts 6,000 square miles of restricted airspace. Restricted airspace is required so that launches from the facility do not interfere with commercial and private air traffic.
  • At an elevation of 4,595 feet, Spaceport America has an advantage over other sea level spaceport locations. A higher elevation puts launches almost a mile closer to space, saving energy and fuel.

When will Virgin Galactic launch its space tourism flights?

  • Virgin will launch after all possible testing has been done to protect the safety of their passengers.

How do I visit Spaceport?

If I can’t visit Spaceport America, what is the next best thing?

Sierra County's Spaceport America on Google Maps

Spaceport America on Google Maps


Virgin Galactic high-speed aircraft

Virgin Galactic Flights to Resume

Virgin Galactic announced on Monday May 8th that it will resume flights before the month ends.

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Sunlight breaks through clouds near the Spaceport America facility.

Signature Campus in Sierra County Will Anchor Curated Customer Journey

Virgin Galactic is moving forward with a new astronaut campus and training facility near Spaceport America.

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Sierra Space signs agreement with Spaceport America

Sierra Space and Spaceport America Sign Agreement

A new MOU adds New Mexico’s spaceport to Sierra Space’s portfolio of potential global landing sites for its Dream Chaser®.

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Thunderbirds train at Spaceport America

Thunderbirds Train at Spaceport America

The team’s first 2022 training site is Spaceport America, which provides 6,000 square miles of restricted airspace, a 12,000-foot runway, low humidity, and 340 days of sunshine.

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Virgin Galactic flight from Spaceport America July 11, 2021

First Fully-Crewed Flight: Success!

Congrats to Virgin Galactic and its new astronauts, who flew to space from Spaceport America on July 11, 2021.

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First Fully Crewed Virgin Galactic Space Flight

First Spaceport Flight to be Streamed Live

Audiences around the world are invited to participate virtually in the Unity 22 test flight and see the extraordinary experience Virgin Galactic is creating for future astronauts.

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14 great quotes from Sir Richard Branson

Branson Aims to Beat Bezos to Space

Virgin Galactic will attempt to launch its next test spaceflight on July 11, carrying founder Sir Richard Branson to the edge of space. Branson is aiming to beat fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos to space, as the Bezos plans to launch with Blue Origin on July 20.

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VSS Unity takes first flight to space from New Mexico's Spaceport

Virgin Galactic Achieves First Human Spaceflight From New Mexico

PRESS RELEASE May 22, 2021-Sierra County, N.M. — Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (“The Company or Virgin Galactic”) today completed its third spaceflight and the first ever spaceflight from Spaceport America, New Mexico. Today’s flight sees New Mexico become the third US state to launch humans into space. VSS Unity achieved a speed of […]

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Spaceport America Cup

Spaceport Cup 2021 Goes Virtual

The 2021 Spaceport America Cup will be an online competition and technical conference. Dates of the event are June 18-20.

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Spaceport America in Sierra County New Mexico

Preparations Underway for First Human Spaceflight from Spaceport America

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority has started preparations ahead of Virgin Galactic’s first powered spaceflight from Spaceport America. The flight window opens on December 11, 2020.

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Virgin Galactic Third Powered Flight January 2014

Two Pilots, Jameel Janjua & Patrick Moran, Join Virgin Galactic Pilot Corps

Virgin Galactic welcomed two new pilots, Jameel Janjua and Patrick Moran, into its pilot corps on October 27, bringing the total number of pilots to eight.

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Virgin Galactic high-speed aircraft

Virgin Galactic Unveils High-Speed Aircraft Design

Virgin Galactic’s high-speed aircraft would cruise at three times the speed of sound.

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SpaceShipTwo glides over Spaceport America

Virgin Galactic completes second successful glide test at Spaceport America

Despite the global pandemic slowing operations and activity, Virgin Galactic has been able to continue with test flights of its SpaceShipTwo in New Mexico.

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VSS Unity arriving at Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences NM

Virgin Galactic Spaceship Arrives at New Home in New Mexico

Virgin Galactic’s spaceship VSS Unity arrived at Spaceport America in Southern New Mexico on February 13, 2020.

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virgin galactic sees strong interest in space tourism

Virgin Galactic Sees Demand for Tourist Flights to Space, Will Re-open Ticket Sales

Virgin Galactic’s George Whitesides appeared on CNBC to talk about progress, reopening of ticket sales to space, and more.

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2nd virgin galactic vehicle being built in Mojave

Second VG Vehicle Takes Shape

As Virgin Galactic continues to push toward starting commercial passenger service with the first SpaceShipTwo, a second vehicle is taking shape in a hangar in Mojave.

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Virgin Galactic Spaceship Two

Virgin Galactic, Italian Air Force team up

From “Virgin Galactic announced a contract with the Italian Air Force Wednesday to fly a science experiment tended by researchers during a flight to suborbital space on the Space­Ship­Two spacecraft.”

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the cavernous hangar at Spaceport America

Virgin Galactic Inaugurates Gateway to Space

Virgin Galactic, which aims to start launching paying customers to suborbital space in the near future, declared its “Gateway to Space” building operational on August 15, 2019.

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Virgin Galactic will go public

Virgin Galactic Going Public After Merger

Richard Branson’s space-tourism venture, Virgin Galactic, is planning to go public, creating the first listed human spaceflight firm.

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SpinLaunch breaking ground at Spaceport America

SpinLaunch to break ground at Spaceport

SpinLaunch, a company that’s developed technology to catapult rockets to the edge of space, will soon to break ground at Spaceport America.

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Virgin Galactic comments from 2019 Space Symposium

SpaceShipTwo Test Program Expected to Progress “Fairly Quickly”

Virgin Galactic’s chief pilot believes the company will be able to go through the remainder of its SpaceShipTwo test program fairly quickly once test flights of the suborbital spaceplane resume.

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Beth Moses, chief astronaut instructor for Virgin Galactic

Chief Astronaut Instructor Describes First Flight on WhiteKnightTwo

Beth Moses, VG’s chief astronaut instructor, took her first test flight in February of 2019 and earned her commercial astronaut wings in April.

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Sir Branson again, near WhiteKnight2 replica, at Spaceport America

Branson wants to fly to space in July 2019

“My wish is to go up on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing — that’s what we’re working on.”

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Washington Post writes about Spaceport America

Virgin Galactic’s Quest for Space (Washington Post)

A November 2018 Washington Post article on Virgin Galactic’s “quest for space.”

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UP Aerospace rocket at Spaceport America

UP Aerospace Completes Two Space Launches Within Five Days

On September 12 and 17 2018, UP Aerospace demonstrated their ability to fly sub-orbital launch vehicles in rapid succession.

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Virgin Galactic Just Made Its Second Successful Test Flight to Space

Condé Nast: Virgin Galactic Just Made Its Second Successful Test Flight to Space

In its third journey with high-powered rockets (and 14th test flight overall), the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo hurtled into the Earth’s atmosphere at Mach 2.47, more than twice the speed of sound and much faster than it’s previous Mach 1.9.

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Virgin Galactic logo

Condé Nast Traveler: Space Tourism Reality Is a Bit Closer

Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic hit major milestones, bringing future vacations in space a bit closer to reality.

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KRWG Las Cruces

Virgin Galactic Releases Update on New Mexico Spaceflight Operations (from KRWG Las Cruces)

KRWG’s Michael Hernandez reports on Virgin Galactic’s April 2018 presentation to the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance.

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Spaceport America runway pre-lengthening

What Virgin Galactic’s ‘Big Move’ Means for Commercial Space Travel

Virgin Galactic announced last week that it is planning a big move of its operations to Spaceport America in New Mexico next year. “We know you’ve waited a long time and we are coming.”

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Spaceport America Cup

2017 Spaceport America Cup

The 2017 Spaceport America Cup is set for June 20 through 24, and will bring more teams than ever to compete.

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USC Launches Rocket at Spaceport America, sets record

USC’s Record Setter

University of Southern California Rocket Propulsion Lab launch of Fathom II rocket at Spaceport America on March 4, 2017 to an altitude of 144,000 ft.

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Virgin Galactic Third Powered Flight January 2014

Virgin to Test Its Spacecraft in 2016

SpaceShipTwo will begin “glide flight testing” before the end of 2016, according to Virgin Galactic.

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Virgin Galactic logo

Virgin Galactic: License is an “Important Milestone”

“The Federal Aviation Administration has granted Virgin Galactic a commercial license to operate its SpaceShipTwo — the latest milestone in the aspiring spaceline’s quest to one day fly from New Mexico’s Spaceport America.”

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Exos Aerospace

EXOS Aerospace to Fly From Spaceport

EXOS Aerospace Systems and Technologies plans to fly from the Spaceport over the next 5 years, according to a joint statement.

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Adidas space apparel prototypes

Adidas’ “Y-3” Creates Spacesuit Prototypes for Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic has collaborated with Yohji Yamamoto, a Japanese designer from Adidas’ Y-3 label, to create a new line of apparel that’s ready for space travel.

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small plane on the Spaceport America runway

Turner Enterprises Teams Up with Spaceport America

The close proximity of Spaceport America to the Sierra Grande Lodge & Spa and the Armendaris and Ladder ranches presents a serendipitous opportunity for an exclusive partnership.

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Spaceport America runway pre-lengthening

November 6 2015 UP Aerospace Launch Video

The November 6 mission was UP Aerospace’s 10th SpaceLoft rocket launch and the first deployment mission (for NASA, deploying the Maraia Earth Return Capsule).

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rocket launched from Spaceport America reaches record altitude

November 6 Rocket Launch: You’re Invited!

Tickets are on sale now for a ride out to Spaceport America to watch an UpAerospace rocket launch!

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student launch at Spaceport America

How the Spaceport America Project Has Benefitted Local Students

Spaceport America has benefitted Sierra County in many ways. In light of the Spaceport Visitor Center opening in downtown Truth or Consequences, we put together a list of the positives.

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Virgin Galactic Third Powered Flight January 2014

Amazing Cool Video of Virgin Galactic’s Third Powered Flight

Video of Virgin Galactic’s Third Powered Flight, which occurred on January 14, 2014.

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Reuters News Agency visits Spaceport America

Reuters: Beautiful Photos + Story on Spaceport and T or C

Wonderful photos of Spaceport America and Truth or Consequences, the town that sits 35 miles northwest of the facility.

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near-space balloon

Spaceport America is Ahead of the Curve

Lots of people want to get in on the nascent space flight market. States and locales as diverse as Hawaii, Georgia, Alabama, and Puerto Rico are eyeing the possibility of building a spaceport, but New Mexico’s Spaceport America is already near completion and has launched 19 vertical launches so far.

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Spaceport America runway pre-lengthening

Spaceport America Runway Extension Complete!

As of the July 1 newsletter from Spaceport America, the runway extension is finished, extended length totals 12,000 feet.

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UP Aerospace SpaceLoft-7

June 21 Launch from Spaceport America

“Fine weather and on-time.” Jerry Larson of UP Aerospace described the most recent Spaceport America launch as a success all the way around.

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Press Junket for Shyamalan’s Sci Fi Film “After Earth” at Spaceport America

Jaden and Will Smith visited Southern New Mexico in May, as part of a press junket for their new movie “After Earth.”

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Grasshopper by SpaceX, the newest tenant at Spaceport America

The Amazing SpaceX Grasshopper!

Spaceport America’s newest tenant is SpaceX, the creator of “Grasshopper” – a rocket that is able to return to the launch pad intact for a vertical landing, rather than burning up upon reentry in the Earth’s atmosphere.

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Fire Truck at Spaceport America

Fire Truck at Spaceport America

Someone sent us this photo of a Fire Truck at Spaceport America, just because it looks cool.

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Virgin Galactic & Spaceport America – Doing Business in New Mexico

An article from the Albuquerque Journal on some of the Albuquerque businesses that have been chosen by Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America to provide services to the facility.

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Raton New Mexico

Raton Students’ Enthusiasm for Spaceport Pays Off

Raton students traveled to the State Capitol in Santa Fe earlier this year to participate in the 2013 Legislative Session and the passing of the Limited Liability bill that was so crucial to Spaceport America’s success.

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cosmic shift accelerator: space travel

The Effects of Space Travel: Cosmic Shift Accelerator?

Check out this video of former astronauts describing the psychological effects of space travel. Source:

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Spaceport Executive Director Christine Anderson

Spaceport Newsletter

From Christine Anderson: “January has been an action packed month. We started out with our 18th vertical launch from the spaceport. We achieved a major milestone–we gave Virgin Galactic the keys to the Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space on January 15 and correspondingly they started paying rent.”

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Informed Consent Bill

NM Senate Bill 240 – Informed Consent

Read the informed consent bill!

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JCrew photo shoot at Spaceport America

J. Crew at Spaceport America

Lookin’ good! (We’re talking to J. Crew, the model AND Spaceport America.) See all the photos of J. Crew at Spaceport America here!

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KRWG program on Spaceport America

Informed Consent: Spaceport America on PBS

Moderator Fred Martino conducted an interview with Virgin Galactic’s Mark Butler and Christine Anderson of Spaceport America on PBS / KRWG TV in Las Cruces.

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rocket launched from Spaceport America reaches record altitude

Rocket Reaches Record Altitude

Spaceport America officials announced that they successfully launched the 10th rocket from the launch site 35 miles southeast of Truth or Consequences / Elephant Butte on April 6, 2012 at approximately 8:18am. The rocket reached an altitude of 73 miles or 385,640 feet – a new Spaceport America altitude record. The primary payloads were reportedly […]

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Virgin Galactic logo

Virgin Galactic Gets Green Light for Powered Flight

Blog post from Virgin Galactic:”FAA Launch Permit Gives Virgin Galactic’s Space Vehicles the Green Light for Powered Flight“

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Stig-A early rocket launch at Spaceport America

STIG-A Rocket Launch

"Armadillo Aerospace launched its third STIG-A test rocket from Spaceport America to an altitude of about 50 miles (82 kilometers) on Jan. 28. A test of a balloon-parachute recovery system (“ballute”) was not fully successful, but the Armadillo team was nevertheless able to recover the vehicle. Armadillo says its next test launch will go beyond […]

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Federal Grant Obtained for Spaceport America Infrastructure

August 29, 2011 blog post from "Spaceport America Receives Repeat Federal Infrastructure Grant"

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Nasa Selects Virgin Galactic

August 10, 2011 press release from the Virgin Galactic Website: “Nasa Selects Virgin Galactic for Suborbital Flights“

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Spaceport's Terminal Hangar Looking Good!

Terminal Hangar Facility in March 2011

A photo of the Spaceport America terminal hangar facility during construction phase.

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Terminal Hangar Facility Takes Shape

From the Spaceport America website, an aerial shot of the Spaceport America Terminal Hangar Facility.

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Space Accredited Travel Agents come from all over the world to visit Spaceport America

Space-Accredited Travel Agents Visit New Mexico

60 “Space Accredited” Travel Agents from around the world visited Southern NM in early October. This photo was taken at the Spaceport America Terminal Hangar Facility.

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Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo

First Manned Free Flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceshipTwo

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo “VSS ENTERPRISE” completes its first manned free flight:

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Spaceport Terminal Hangar under construction, 2010

Spaceport America Terminal Hangar Under Construction

The New Mexico Tourism Commission visited Spaceport America in late May 2010. This photo is of the Terminal Hangar.

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AP photo by Dick Woodsum of the Spaceport America Runway

Spaceport America Runway Under Construction, March 2010

Aerial photograph of the Spaceport America Runway during construction phase AP PHOTO: Dick Woodsum

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hard hat tours

Hard Hat Tours to Spaceport America

Tours are being conducted to Spaceport America as construction allows. Cost is $59 per person; tour time is approximately 3 hours. Tours must be prebooked. This video about the tours aired on KRQE News 13:

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Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Roll-Out

Virgin Galactic rolled out SpaceShipTwo, the world’s first manned commercial spaceship, on December 7, 2009.

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visitors to an early launch at the New Mexico Spaceport

Photos from a 2006 Rocket Launch at Spaceport America

photo collages by Moshe Koenick

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