Preview Bus Tours
What To Expect
Your Spaceport America journey starts in the community of Hot Springs, or what is known today as “Truth or Consequences”. The tour then travels past the expansive concrete monolith of Elephant Butte Dam, built in 1916 to control the then-wild Rio Grande River. After leaving town, the route runs parallel to the historic El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro trail, Spanish “Royal Road”, the highway that connected this region to Mexico City during much of the colonial period. From 1598 to 1680, Spanish Conquistadores used this trail along with Native Americans, and later in the 1800′s, the first U.S. explorers and militias used the same passageway to navigate the southwest. It served as one of the central corridors for Mexico – U.S. trade after the 1820s.
You’ll learn fascinating stories about some of area’s more colorful characters like colonial explorer Don Juan de Oñate, frontiersman Oliver Lee and the unsolved murders of Albert J. Fountain, infamous outlaw Billy The Kid and Sheriff Pat Garrett, all of whom are linked to the El Camino Real Trail.
The expedition then takes you near media mogul Ted Turner’s vast 350,000-acre Armendaris Ranch, which contains some of the most pristine Chihuahuan Desert grasslands in existence today. The Armendaris was established under an old Spanish land grant in 1819 and was patented in 1881. Turner purchased the ranch in 1994.
Following passage through the ghost town of Engle, you’ll embark on the Jornada del Muerto, or the “Journey of the Deadman” on your way to the 18,000-acre site of Spaceport America. The tour will venture inside the spaceport perimeter where you’ll witness history in the making: the future home of the personal and commercial spaceflight industry.
The vehicle will first traverse the site to the vertical launch area to see existing space launch facilities and vertical mission control building on the eastern range. Watch out for livestock and wild animals as you ride through two working cattle ranches that peacefully coexist with the spaceport. With cameras at the ready, tours have even encountered cows jumping over our lunar lander pads! The tour guide will then point out and explain the different components of the new Spaceport America infrastructure currently under construction, including the airfield, spaceport operations center, fuel storage complex, and the iconic terminal hangar facility. If your’re lucky you may even speak with a project engineer or stand at the head of the 10,000 foot long by 200 foot wide concrete “spaceway”.
Additionally, you’ll learn about what it takes to make a successful spaceport and why New Mexico is so ideally suited for space access. A long New Mexico tradition of being first when it comes to space is highlighted through the exploits of local aerospace pioneers, such as Robert Goddard, Wernher von Braun, Col. John Stapp, and Capt. Joseph Kittinger
Finally, the tour will include the latest updates on major players and trends in the emerging commercial space industry. You’ll hear the stories of Virgin Galactic, Armadillo Aerospace, XCOR Aerospace, UP Aerospace, and more, along with predictions for new game-changing technologies like point-to-point transportation and space-based solar power. With so much happening in space every day both on-site and around the world, no two tours will be quite the same!
New Mexico has a rich history spanning over many centuries. The Spaceport America Preview Tour not only introduces you to the people and places that make up our past, but culminates in a taste of the future. Witness the coming of the Second Space Age, and reserve your tour today!