Monday, July 18, 2011

Spaceport City, Las Cruces, New Mexico, Virgin Galactic, and their one Extraterrestrial Neighbor

This news from the "final frontier" just in! The New Mexico Spaceport Authority expects to have, in a little more than a year, a spaceport built between Las Cruces and the missile test center at White Sands. If all goes according to plan, you, too, will be soon be able to purchase a ticket on Virgin Galactic and ride a space vehicle to the edge of space. Reportedly, it may cost in the vicinity of $200,000, so many of us will have to start planning and saving now.... (Details here.)

It seems fitting that that location is within commuting distance of the first extraterrestrial to come to Earth from another planet: Ana Darcy Mendez, who lives near Mesilla, a suburb of Las Cruces. Ana already has, in fact, a vehicle which has taken several of her family and acquaintances to the edge of space, and for free. (See DC3 and DC4.)

See the maps below (and right click to enlarge in another window). The first shows the junction of Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico where much of the action in the Distant Cousin series takes place. The blue dot is the approximate location of the new spaceport. South of Las Cruces you can see the city of Juarez, Mexico, featured in DC4. Across the river to the east, but unmarked, is the city of El Paso. To the west down IH10, there is Deming, and south of that the border crossing at Las Palomas, which features in DC5. Mata Ortiz (photos here), in DC5, is just out of the picture to the south.

[Note: the maps will not appear to some visitors. It's not personal! Click on each empty frame, and the map should appear.]

The second map shows the spaceport and Las Cruces, with White Sands national monument above. There are ski areas in the mountains just east of there, and Highway 70 descends to Las Cruces from Alamogordo, featured in DC4. There is a lovely aerial photo of this entire area here, with White Sands visible in the far distance. (You may click to enlarge it.) The spaceport is apparently being built between there and the city of Las Cruces, on the west side of the mountains.

The third map highlights Las Cruces itself, with the University of New Mexico campus area highlighted. It will do doubt offer technical support to the spaceport. Also of interest is the suburb of Mesilla and Highway 28. The Mendez family lives south of Mesilla along this highway. Visible too are the extensive, irrigated pecan groves, and skirting the western side, the Rio Grande river. West of that, at this point, is New Mexico. Mexico itself is to the west further south, off this map.

It seems likely that Ana will keep a very low profile with respect to the spaceport. She has her own, hidden in those pecan groves!


See more maps and area photo in the column at right,
under the photo of the blue-eyed kitty-->

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