Space the Final Frontier

Can Ultra-Rich Virgin Galactic Ticketholders Stomach New Mexico Long Enough to Get to Space?

"I certainly would not have come to New Mexico without my interest in the Spaceport."

Excuse me but where is the nearest Ritz? (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Excuse me but where is the nearest Ritz? (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

There’s a whole mess of celebrities who’ve already signed up for $250,000 trips to outer space on Virgin Galactic, who’ll be embarking from “Spaceport America” in southern New Mexico. But first, the area is going to need more luxury hotels and fine dining establishments, because my God, a roadside motel? Not even for the chance to go to ACTUAL SPACE.

This analysis comes courtesy of the Las Cruces News, which reports on the proceedings of the recent International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight. Apparently one of the speakers was former PayPal senior manager and current Virgin Galactic ticket holder Michael Blum. He’s pretty psyched about his upcoming trip: “I’m going to space,” he said. “Less than 600 people have been. It’s a big event.”

In fact, he’s so proud he’ll be bringing along a posse, reports the newspaper; Mr. Blum will be dragging along 30 people to watch and he said others might bring as many as 100 pals. But if he’s going to venture out into the sticks (and bring friends!), he wants to see local businesses step up on his and his guests’ behalf, with more luxury accommodations, fine dining establishments and things do to besides watching the tumbleweeds and shooting at jackrabbits while drunk.

“I certainly would not have come to New Mexico without my interest in the Spaceport,” he said. Ditto the rest of the Virgin Galactic crowd: “We’re not talking about millions of people, but we’re talking about people with tremendous net worth,” Mr. Blum reportedly informed the crowd.

The opportunity is “something that’s really up for grabs,” he said, offering the example of Macao’s transformation around gambling. Unless Virgin plops a hotel for its wealthy customers somewhere nearby or they simply chopper in from Santa Fe, of course.

So when’s Richard Branson going to break lunar ground on a six-star Virgin-branded moon hotel? Consider what techies already pay to stay on Necker Island, and that’s basically just Panama City Beach in the cosmic scheme of things. Sean Parker would have to renew his vows.

(h/t Skift/the AP)

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