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This Western town is ground zero for private space travel

Meet the spaceport of Truth or Consequences

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In 1950, a small New Mexican town in a patch of nondescript desert decided to make itself famous. The host of Truth or Consequences, a popular radio gameshow at the time, offered to air his program from the first town that named itself after the show. And so, the town of Hot Springs, New Mexico, became the town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

More than 60 years later, Truth or Consequences has kept its distinctive name, and gained something similarly rare: the world's first commercial spaceport. Truth or Consequences is the closest town to Spaceport America, a facility that commercial spaceflight companies such as Virgin Galactic and SpaceX plan to use to fire paying passengers past our atmosphere.

Spaceport America officially opened in 2011. Twenty suborbital missions have already been launched from the spaceport, and commercial spaceflight companies SpaceX and Virgin Galactic have deals that allow them to use the desert facility for test flights and planned launches — but the center is not quite ready to be a bustling spaceport just yet.

Companies such as SpaceX are rapidly iterating on their spacecraft, but for now, the building that might soon let us regular citizens slip the surly bonds of Earth waits in the high desert as technology and funding catch up with our dreams. Photographer Dan Hendrickson captures both the spaceport, and the oddly named town it sits near, in his appropriately titled photo essay SP^CEPORT. Hendrickson says the differences between the two places offer a fascinating dichotomy "between an American town that can sometimes feel like another planet, and a spaceport that promises to take passengers into outer space."

Images courtesy of Dan Hendrickson.

Spaceport America images


Hot Springs renamed itself Truth or Consequences in 1950 in a bid to boost tourism to the small town. Around 6,000 people live in the settlement today.