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When we first heard that Virgin, the brand most associated with records and affordable cellphones, was going to be taking people to space with the Virgin Galactic venture, we thought it was absolute madness. Now that they’ve finally gone operational with the “Gateway to Space” at Spaceport America in Las Cruces, New Mexico, it’s all a bit more grounded in reality. Situated on almost 20,000 acres in New Mexico, the “Gateway to Space” building at Spaceport America, the 670,000 sq-ft facility is divided in its dedication to both “Future Astronauts” and mission-critical functions. As they tell it, “The first floor is focused on our home planet, and is named Gaia, representing the point of departure and return, as well as the purpose of each astronaut’s journey.” That floor includes stylish furnishings, a central barista bar and a number of practical spaces that will allow the public the share meals with the entire Virgin Galactic crew. “The second floor is named Cirrus, representing light, air and flight. It is the beating heart of spaceflight operations, and is connected to the community hub of Gaia below through a double height atrium.” That floor includes Mission Control, Mission Briefing, Pilot Corps, Flight Operations and all the other essential crew services of the operation. Even if you can’t afford to hop on a Virgin Galactic flight–we’re in the same boat!–it’s still nice to see all the things coming together to make commercial space flights a reality.

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