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Spaceport America

Blending into the mountains

WhiteKnightTwo outside

WhiteKnightTwo inside

Flying overhead

SpaceshipTwo

16-34

Operations building

Mission control

Both buildings

Reflection

Runway

Operations center with fire trucks

Gateway to space

Terminal from above

SPACEPORT AMERICA, N.M. -- it looks like a building for the future, and it is. In the middle of the New Mexico desert, an hour outside Truth or Consequence, a very large building emerges -- the home of Virgin Galactic.

Here, at some point in the near future, Virgin Galactic hopes, it will begin the commercial spaceflight age. Flying private citizens, at $250,000 a seat, into space aboard the custom-built Spaceship Two, launched from the WhiteKnightTwo, the company expects to make history.

This is the Virgin Galactic terminal building. All astronauts will go through this building, which is closed to the public and the press.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

The main terminal building was designed by the famous architecture firm Foster + Partners to blend into the surrounding mountains. (Foster + Partners is also the firm behind Apple's upcoming donut-shaped campus in Cupertino, Calif.)

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo, which will carry SpaceshipTwo, seen outside the Virgin terminal at Spaceport America during a Virgin press event.

Caption by / Photo by Foster + Partners

WhiteKnightTwo is seen inside the terminal building in this promotional photograph from Foster + Partners.

Caption by / Photo by Foster + Partners

WhiteKnightTwo, carrying SpaceshipTwo, circles over the Spaceport America runway in this Virgin Galactic promotional photo.

Caption by / Photo by Virgin Galactic

SpaceshipTwo is seen inside the Mojave, Calif., hangar of the Spaceship Company, the firm created by Virgin Galactic to build the spacecraft that will eventually carry paying passengers aloft.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

The terminal building is seen from the edge of the runway at Spaceport America.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

The Spaceport America operations building, which is home to mission control and to the administrative offices of the New Mexico Space Authority.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Though it looks like little more than a glorified desk, this is mission control in the operations building. From here, New Mexico Space Authority personnel can monitor any and all launches that take place at Spaceport America.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Both the main terminal building and the operations center are seen in this CNET photograph.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

The exterior of the terminal building is meant both to provide a stunning reflection of the tarmac and surrounding area, and to make it nearly impossible to see inside the building.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

A look down the Spaceport America runway into the New Mexico desert.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

The operations center is also home to Spaceport America's fire crew. Upstairs, behind the second-story window, is mission control.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

This screen, in mission control, provides basic information about conditions at Spaceport America.

Caption by / Photo by Daniel Terdiman/CNET

The main terminal, seen from above in a Foster + Partners photograph.

Caption by / Photo by Foster + Partners
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