Virgin Galactic’s Gateway to Space will be the launchpad for the world’s first commercial space flights, slated to launch in 2020 – for those able and willing to fork out US$250,000 (S$346,000) for the privilege, that is.

Located within the 72 sq km Spaceport America in New Mexico, USA, the stunning two-storey, 670,000 sq ft (62,245 sqm) facility features an organically-shaped, copper clad, skylight-studded domed roof (resembling a giant sting ray, or even an alien, depending on your perspective) and a lofty double-height atrium.

Designed by renowned architectural firm Foster + Partners to pay homage to the past by respecting the ancient surrounding landscape, safeguard the future by promoting energy efficiency and sustainability, and create a memorable setting for the journey of a lifetime, the interior fit-out was led by veteran Virgin architectural and interior designer, Jeremy Brown, Virgin Galactic’s Design Director, in collaboration with London-based Viewport Studio.

On the ground level is a series of split-level terraces called Gaia Lounge (named after planet Earth), which acts as a shared lounge area for customers and their friends and families, as well as Virgin Galactic employees.

Furnishings and fittings in earthy desert-inspired hues, such as sunny yellows, rusty reds and green tones reminiscent of desert vegetation, represent departure to, and return from space, while the use of natural materials aims to bring in the stunning surroundings.

The second floor, named Cirrus, represents light, air and flight, and is appropriately decked out in white and grey shades to represent clouds, and space travel. Functioning as the operations centre, it houses Mission Control, the Mission Briefing Room, the Pilot Corps and the rest of the Flight Operations team, while offering staff an unrestricted view of ground operation areas including the apron and runway.

A double height atrium unites the two floors, while an elevated, interactive digital walkway heightens the departure experience for travellers (and their friends and family) as they set out from Spaceport to VSS Unity on the day of flight.

A huge expanse in the middle of the building, large enough to accommodate two carrier aircraft – each with a 42m wingspan – along with five SpaceShipTwo vehicles, will serve as the hangar for Virgin Galactic’s space fleet.

According to