New Mexico Spaceport is the new Area 51S

If you're looking for the latest in hush-hush experimental test flights, look no further than the new Spaceport America in Truth or Consequences, NM. Last week local radio station KRQE in Albuquerque reported that Lockheed Martin is running a shadowy operation out of the port, and even got a hold of some pictures of the new reusable, rocket-powered craft. There's no word yet on plans to test co-opted alien technologies.

Whether or not Spaceport America ever becomes the first Earthly landing strip for interstellar visitors is still up for grabs (some would argue that title goes to Roswell, NM, 200 miles to the east). For now the fledgling base is content to host "domestic" flights only, with space tourism runs planned to start as early as next year. Here's what the prototype looks like, and a snippet from the KRQE article discusses the possibility of military testing on the way:

New Mexico Spaceport is the new Area 51

New Mexico Spaceport is the new Area 51

For Lockheed Martin Spaceport America in southeastern Sierra County offers the perfect venue for research like this.

"To be able to have a spaceport located down here where we can come in and almost just drop right in, do our thing and then be able to go back home and review the data and then be able to schedule and come back, that is very key for us," Simpson said.

To provide the actual launch services for this vehicle the new firm hired the company that's already launching rockets at Spaceport America: UP Aerospace.

UP Aerospace knows the state hopes for big bucks from a space tourism industry, however...

"Space tourism is great, but if it could be broader and include aerospace companies and military operations and things like that, then it will be much more stable as a spaceport moving forward," Jerry Larson of UP Aerospace said. "It won't be so reliant on just one tenant."

Source: KRQE Albuquerque via LiveScience

Photos: KRQE Albuquerque