Truth or Consequences Spaceport

In the desert of New Mexico, about 20 miles outside the small town of Truth or Consequences, the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport is preparing to host its first flights for paying customers later this year. More than 650 tickets have already been sold by Virgin Galactic at a cost of $250,000 apiece, offering passengers a trip into sub-orbital space, where they'll experience several minutes of weightlessness. Spaceport America already has several other tenants, including SpaceX, which is testing a new reusable launch vehicle. Residents of Truth or Consequences are hopeful the spaceport will become a success, and that jobs and tourists will follow. Reuters photographer Lucy Nicholson recently traveled to the area, returning with these photos.
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1. Spaceport America's Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space Building, photographed near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico on May 1, 2014. The world's first purpose-built commercial space base and soon-to-be site of the first space flights with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is situated near the town of Truth or Consequences in New Mexico. The inaugural flight into suborbital space should happen later this year and the first astronauts, who have made reservations and paid $250,000 for the flight, should follow a month later. While it's not clear what the economic impact will be, many agree that Spaceport America should inject new energy into the town.




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2. A road sign with a rocket sticker, near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, on May 1, 2014.




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3. An overall view of the town of Truth or Consequences on May 1, 2014.




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4. A display in honor of radio quiz show host Ralph Edwards, whose show the town was named after, in Geronimo Springs Museum in Truth or Consequences on May 3, 2014. The town was originally named Hot Springs, but took part in a 1950 promotional stunt, where fans of the quiz show "Truth or Consequences" were challenged to rename their town after the show. Hot Springs won, and for the next fifty years, host Ralph Edwards made an annual visit to the town for a town-wide celebration in early May.




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5. Jessie Springer, 26, tosses a lasso around a calf at the rodeo in Truth or Consequences on May 2, 2014.




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6. A boy wears spurs on his cowboy boots at the rodeo in Truth or Consequences on May 3, 2014.




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7. Esteban Edwards, 7, holds a U.S. flag at the rodeo in Truth or Consequences on May 3, 2014.




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8. People wave at a car during the annual Fiesta parade in Truth or Consequences on May 3, 2014.




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9. People dance to a band during the annual Fiesta in Truth or Consequences on May 3, 2014.




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10. Val Wilkes, 54, (left) and her wife Cydney Wilkes, 56, stand outside their motel, the Rocket Inn, in Truth or Consequences, on May 2, 2014.




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11. A tie-dyed spaceport T-shirt made by Jeff Dukatt, 59, in his store in Truth or Consequences, on May 1, 2014.




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12. An overhead view of Spaceport America, in the New Mexico desert, about 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Truth or Consequences. See it on Google maps.




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13. A view of the perimeter fence of Spaceport America on May 1, 2014.




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14. Spaceport America's Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space Building, photographed on May 2, 2014.




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15. A tourist photographs the Spaceport Operations Center at Spaceport America on May 2, 2014.




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16. The main runway mission control of Spaceport America, photographed on May 1, 2014.




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17. A fire truck sits parked outside the Spaceport Operations Center at Spaceport America, on May 1, 2014.




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18. Spaceport America's Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space Building, at the end of the road to the main runway, on May 1, 2014.




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19. Cattle graze in a field outside Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, on May 1, 2014.