Richard Branson opens world's first commercial spaceport

Business tycoon Sir Richard Branson has added another accomplishment to his list of gigantic achievements by constructing the first built-from-scratch commercial spaceport

The English billionaire celebrated the occasion by opening a bottle of champagne, as Virgin Galactic is set to stage its commercial space tourism venture from Spaceport America, which is located in a remote patch of desert in southern New Mexico.

Susana Martinez, Governor of New Mexico, astronaut Buzz Aldrin and scores of would-be space travellers came to witness the milestone at the terminal-hangar.

"The building is absolutely magnificent," the Daily Express quoted the business magnate as saying.

"It is literally out of this world, and that's what we were aiming at creating."

With the spaceport and mothership completed, the company is now finalising its rocket tests.

"We're ticking the final boxes on the way to space," Sir Richard said.

The Virgin Group owner hopes that enough powered test flights of the spacecraft can be done by the end of 2012 to start commercial sub-orbital flights from the spaceport soon after.

More than 450 people have reportedly purchased tickets to fly with Virgin Galactic.

Before entering the hangar, the crowd were treated to a flyover by WhiteKnightTwo, the mothership that will one day take space tourists on sub-orbital flights.

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