Virgin Galactic moves to New Mexico ahead of test program completion


Virgin Galactic is moving into premises at Spaceport America in New Mexico as its development and testing program scales up towards completion.

The move, which involves more than 100 staff and all existing space vehicles, principally the carrier aircraft VMS Eve and the spaceship VSS Unity is planned to be completed by the end summer. Virgin Galactic, which was founded in 2004, has so far been based at Mojave in California.

The new base at Spaceport America will also be where Virgin Galactic runs flights from when it begins commercial operations. The company will become the first to offer a regular commercial spaceflight service for paying passengers and science research from the Spaceport, if all goes to plan this year.

VMS Eve and VSS Unity are having their cabin interior’s fitted by Mojave-based The Spaceship Company (TSC) and will be transported when this is completed. The final test flights will be conducted from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

TSC, a sister organisation to Virgin Galactic is to remain based in Mojave where it will continue building Virgin Galactic’s planned fleet of SpaceShipTwo spacecraft. Two more are currently under construction.

Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson said, “I could not be more excited to announce that we are now ready to bring New Mexico a world-first spaceline. Virgin Galactic is coming home to New Mexico where together we will open space to change the world for good.”

George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company said, “The first photograph of Earth from space was taken over New Mexico in October of 1946. How inspiring and appropriate that the state will soon host the first regular commercial spaceflight service, which will enable thousands of people to see Earth from space with their own eyes.”

Virgin Galactic’s test and development program has been gathering pace since it achieved its first spaceflight in December 2018. Branson plans to be the company’s  first commercial passenger.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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