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Race to Space

Roughly 100 witness history at Las Cruces space watch parties

A large screen shows ABC-7's coverage of the spaceflight.
KVIA
A large screen shows ABC-7's coverage of the spaceflight.

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- Roughly 100 people turned out to witness history on Sunday at two viewing parties hosted by the city of Las Cruces to commemorate Virgin Galactic’s historic Unity 22 flight from Spaceport America.

"It's such a big deal,” said Las Cruces resident Blanca Martinez-Rolle. “I’m getting kind of choked up because it was momentous."

Many waited with baited breath on the edge of anticipation, hoping to usher in a new wave of space travel.

"It's a huge event, I mean this is a lifetime event,” another Las Cruces resident, Trevas Younger, reacted. “How often do we get to see a spaceship launch with Richard Branson. I mean that's really incredible."

Around 30 people turned out to the watch party held at Las Cruces City Hall, while approximately 70 others went to the party held at the Rio Grande Theatre.

Both venues featured refreshments along with a live stream of the launch filling big screens for the audiences.

“This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. A historic moment for a city that has long been a driving force in the space exploration and tourism industry,” said Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima. “This is the start of a new era of space travel that has the potential to change the course of history for our city and state by bringing in tourism dollars that will help grow our economy.”

The launch event was estimated to have generated an economic impact to Las Cruces of more than $400,000, based on hotel occupancy rates and visitor spending forecasts.

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Rachel Phillips

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