May 8 - The small New Mexico town of Truth or Consequences may only have 7,000 people, yet with the world's first purpose-built commercial ''spaceport'' just off its border, the town could see its population and fortunes skyrocket. Mary Miliken reports.
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico is typical of many small towns across America, where main streets, store fronts and lifestyles seem trapped in an earlier era, somehow immune to the rapid drive of technology and the frenetic pace of the big cities. Spaceport America is currently host two commercial space flight companies, Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, as well as Elon Musk's SpaceX. Virgin Galactic is hoping that the inaugural flight of SpaceShipTwo will occur later this year, carrying Branson from the 12,000-foot (3,657m) runway to suborbital space for some five minutes of weightlessness. And for the people of T or C, like local artist Roy Lohr, they hope the arrival of what could become a world-changing industry will help their wallets, but not ruin their way of life. SOUNDBITE: Roy Lohr saying (English): "I see articles on the mainstream news about the spaceport and I think it's hard for locals to realize the impact it's going to have, but it's so slow coming, and this is a tiny little town." But the possible economic windfall to towns like T or C is hard to gauge. Sydney and Val Wilkes, who opened a rocket-themed motel, are optimistic that the townspeople and the big-business companies will eventually come to a consensus that benefits everyone. SOUNDBITE: Sydney Wilkes saying (English): "People here are a little experimental, but they have lived their life and decided not to do that anymore and have come here to make their own life, the way they want to, everybody else be damned, and that doesn't always match up with the mainstream and uptown, so I think there is a little shift, that maybe there's room for everybody and communication between the two." But, as the people behind the state-funded 212 million dollar spaceport are well aware, the plans of companies like Virgin Galactic are not set in stone; rather they are subject to the up and downs of safety trials and the complexities of physics and rocket science. So it will be some time before the people of Truth or Consequences see whether or not their town skyrockets into the future.