Spaceport America overcomes major hurdle

In an important step towards that glorious future of half-hour flights to the Akihabara district and welcoming the first members of the hundred-mile high club, voters of a southern New Mexico county selflessly approved a measure to impose a new tax on themselves and in the process give the governor's proposed 27-square mile space tourism launchpad a big push forward. The $198 million project, if given final approval, will be situated near the White Sands Missile Range in Otero County, one of the two remaining counties -- along with Sierra -- that must follow Doña Ana County's lead in imposing a quarter of one percent gross receipts tax for a crucial partial matching of state funds. Once all the financing and regulatory hurdles are overcome, Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic -- the anticipated anchor company of the tentatively-titled SPaceport AMerica (or SPAM, as we like to call it) -- will begin offering sub-orbital flights in 2009 for a reported $200,000 a head, ensuring that our colleagues over at TMZ will have plenty of "celebrities behaving badly in space" stories to cover. Still, the project is not in the bag quite yet, and with critics in those other two counties calling SPAM a waste of money and an undue burden on some of the state's poorest regions, it looks like this one might really come right down to the wire.

[Via ABC News]