Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport, broke ground at New Mexico on 19 June 2009.

The 110,000ft² facility will allow private astronauts to take sub-orbital tourist spaceflights and bring down the cost of commercial space travel, according to New Mexico Spaceport Authority executive director Steve Landeene.

The spaceport will feature a cost-effective and energy-efficient green design. The terminal hangar will be built according to the US Green Building Council’s LEED rating system.

While the Mexican Government will invest about $200m on its development, Virgin Galactic, a spaceline company, will spend $300m on a new space launch system to be operated from the spaceport.

Virgin Galactic, the spaceport’s anchor tenant, has been developing the technology in conjunction with Burt Rutan and Northrop Grumman’s Scaled Composites, which is developing WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo for commercial spaceflight.

Once completed, Virgin Galactic will run regular tourist flights into space and will base its headquarters and operations here providing much of the spaceport’s business.