NM Spaceport Official Excited By New Launch Plane

Spaceport America, New MExico – ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRWG) News that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan are building the world's biggest plane to help launch cargo and astronauts into space has New Mexico officials excited.

Allen and Rutan announced their plans Tuesday, saying the new craft would keep America at the forefront of space exploration.

The two men also collaborated on SpaceShipOne, which was the basis for the craft that will be used by Virgin Galactic at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico. The company has nearly 500 people signed up and ready to fly.

New Mexico Spaceport Authority executive director Christine Anderson says it's gratifying to see the commercial space industry growing.

Despite the challenges ahead, she says it looks like Allen and Rutan are assembling an extremely competent team for the Stratolaunch effort.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. KRWG