Monday Spaceport Dedication

Las Cruces – It's been nearly a year since British billionaire Richard Branson was in southern New Mexico for the dedication of the runway at Spaceport America.

Now, the terminal and hangar facility is complete and Gov. Susana Martinez is ready to hand over the keys so Branson's Virgin Galactic can begin its commercial space tourism venture from this remote patch of desert in Sierra County.

Branson and Martinez will be among the officials at Monday's dedication ceremony.

Clad with custom metal paneling and massive panes of glass, the state-of-the-art terminal rises up to face the nearly two-mile long runway.

The building will house Virgin Galactic's sleek spacecraft, mission control and a preparation area for space tourists who have booked suborbital flights.

Company officials expect powered test flights to begin sometime next year.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.