Ground has been broken on the construction site of Spaceport America, the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport.
Those behind the project say that it will help provide a new chapter in space exploration. When finished in 18 months' time, the facility will house Virgin Galactic's space tourism business and other firms working in the commercial space arena.
It will cost the New Mexico government almost $200m (£121m). Steve Landeene, executive director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority, said: "The future is here and we are not too far off a new age of space. "It is not just about private astronauts going up…"
To impress upon those gathered at the site just how within reach the commercial space-age now is, the star attraction of the ground-breaking event was to have been a fly-by of Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo aircraft. But much to the disappointment of the crowd, at last minute it was forced to turn back with technical difficulties….
If all goes to plan, the inaugural flight should carry Sir Richard Branson, his family and spaceship designer Burt Rutan on a sub-orbital ride within two years. They will be followed by a waiting list of 300 who have all ignored the current economic climate and are willing to pay about $200,000 for the privilege of experiencing six minutes of weightlessness during the two-hour flight.
Space programs funded by hundreds of millions of dollars of public investment are not "private" in any sense. And sub-orbital flights are not "space flight" (let alone "Galactic") in any sense, either.
The future is now! Time for the free marketers to Go Galt in that great Galt's Gulch at L5, or in the Asteroid Belt, or possibly in the Oort Cloud! Yay, stupidity! Yay, stealing!