New Mexico state officials are going to announce next week a deal that could have tourists zooming into space in just a couple years, according to the Albuquerque Journal (subs. required).

The state has reached an agreement with Virgin tycoon Richard Branson, who wants to use the spaceport to launch tourists into the heavens by 2008.

The deal "will put New Mexico on the map as the launch pad for the new personal space flight industry worldwide," Economic Development Secretary Rick Homans said.

The company, Virgin Galactic, has already sold 120 seats at $200,000 a ticket, and has apparently spent $100 million developing its space tourism program.