Spaceport America in southern New Mexico officially opened in October 2011, but eight years later the hype to launch commercial space flights from the terminal in a desolate part of the state remains only hype.

Now, Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, says the wait is coming to an end.

“I will hope to go up in the middle of this year myself… we’ve got another test flight in a handful of weeks,” said Branson. 

Those tests are in the Mojave Desert, with the Land of Enchantment as the end goal.

“We move everything to New Mexico where we have a beautiful Spaceport,” said Branson.  

With that announcement, the New Mexico Tourism Department is bracing for a boom in travelers. 

“All eyes are going to be on New Mexico,” said Jen Schroer, the state’s new Secretary of Tourism. 

She said it’s not just about those with a front row seat to history in the making. 

“The astronauts are gonna bring their friends, their families because this is a milestone in their life,” she said.  

Back in 2013, the state wanted to add accommodations for the hundreds of thousands of people expected to flock here. 

Friday, Shroer only said that many of the hotels in Truth or Consequences and Las Cruces have recently renovated in preparation. 

“I know that both of those communities are working really hard to be prepared and to welcome people into their community,” said Shroer.  

A new marketing campaign is also in the works, which means takeoff is only a matter of time.

“It’s not if, it’s when. This is going to happen and New Mexico’s at the forefront of space tourism,” she said.