Virgin Galactic unveils the world's first 'operationally functional' commercial spaceport

The Gaia lounge at Gateway to Space, Spaceport America, New Mexico, which is "operationally functional"

Virgin Galactic has unveiled the world's first "operationally functional" commercial spaceport.

The company, owned by billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson, announced the transfer of all its spaceflight operations to Spaceport America in New Mexico on Thursday.

Customers will be charged £200,000 for the initial 90-minute flights, which could take place as early as 2020 from the so-called “Gateway to Space”.

Over 600 people have already paid 80 million dollars (£64.2 million) of deposits to the company to secure their tickets on the first spaceflights.

Sir Richard Branson, announced the transfer of all its spaceflight operations to Spaceport America in New Mexico on Thursday. (PA)

Virgin Galactic had been carrying out test flights from Mojave, California - including the first successful launch of its tourism rocket plane into space in December last year.

The business has now revealed the interior of its "Gateway to Space" building at the spaceport - including two floors primarily focused on spaceflight operations, and a further floor of communal spaces specifically designed for future customers.

As a result of the completion of the interior work, the company said the spaceport facility can now "support Virgin Galactic's flight requirements".

READ MORE FROM YAHOO UK:

Future Virgin Galactic passenger: The new space race 'isn't a race at all'

Branson ‘ready to head into space’ after few more Virgin Galactic tests

The space race is heating up again, with billionaires leading the way

The company has said the communal area is specifically designed for astronauts to share their experience with pilots, rocket engineers and operatives from Mission Control.

Last month, Virgin Galactic announced its merger with New York-listed Social Capital Hedosophia to set itself up to become the first and only publicly traded commercial human spaceflight company.

The communal area is specifically designed for astronauts to share their experience with the crew from Mission Control. (PA)

Commenting on the unveiling of the new spaceport, the company said: "Virgin Galactic has striven to remain faithful to that tradition by choosing an elegant, experience-focused concept for the space launch system itself.

"Similarly, the company's choice to operate from Spaceport America in New Mexico was due in no small part to the state's decision to commission landmark architecture for the world's first purpose-built commercial spaceport.

"The Foster + Partners Gateway to Space facility pays homage to the past in its respect for the ancient surrounding landscape while powerfully embracing the future through energy efficiency and sustainability.

"It was also specifically designed to enable Virgin Galactic to create an unparalleled experience as its customers prepare for journeys of a lifetime before graduating as astronauts."

The first customers to go into space have paid £200,000 for their tickets. (PA)

Virgin Galactic was founded in 2004, and it was initially predicted the maiden space flight would launch by 2009.

The date has been repeatedly pushed back due to technical problems but it now looks set to get off the ground as early as next year.

---Watch the latest videos from Yahoo UK---