SpaceShipTwo and its mother ship, White Knight, soar over the new two-mile runway at Spaceport America — New Mexico’s taxpayer-funded gamble to turn the state into the world’s hub for commercial space tourism. When complete, the Spaceport will house the space tourism startup Virgin Galactic. State taxpayers are paying for much of the $200 million facility, which several studies estimate will bring 2,300 to 5,000 jobs and generate revenues nearing $1 billion. Virgin Galactic plans to begin launching customers into space in early 2012.

Photo courtesy of Mark Greenberg/Virgin Galactic