Scene at the Roundhouse Friday as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson announce Virgin Galactic moving spaceline staff and space vehicles to New Mexico. Courtesy photo
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson announced Friday that Virgin Galactic’s development and testing program had advanced sufficiently to move the spaceline staff and space vehicles from Mojave, Calif. to their commercial operations headquarters at Spaceport America, New Mexico.
The move, which involves more than 100 staff, will commence immediately and continue through the summer.
“Going to space and exploring the universe is a team effort. It takes strong partnerships that are courageous and also vulnerable. Sir Richards’ visionary leadership to take meaningful risks along with New Mexico leadership’s far-sighted commitment – epitomizes the successful partnerships that are truly needed for the space industry. I and the rest of the Spaceport America staff are extremely excited to support Virgin Galactic’s continued growth and future successes here in NM,” said CEO Daniel Hicks of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority.
This announcement signals the final countdown to a regular commercial spaceflight service for paying passengers and science research from Spaceport America.
“Our Virgin Galactic adventure has been intertwined with New Mexico and Spaceport America right from the start and our stories have unfolded together,” Sir Richard Branson said. “New Mexico delivered on its promise to build a world-first and world-class spaceport. Today, I could not be more excited to announce, that in return, we are now ready to bring New Mexico a world-first, world-class spaceline. Virgin Galactic is coming home to New Mexico where together we will open space to change the world for good.”
Virgin Galactic will reposition its space system consisting of carrier aircraft VMS Eve and spaceship VSS Unity from Mojave, Calif. to Spaceport America over the summer months once cabin interior and other work has been completed by Virgin Galactic’s sister manufacturing organisation, The Spaceship Company (TSC).
It will complete its final test flights from New Mexico for commencing a full commercial service for passengers and research payload. TSC will remain based in Mojave where it will continue building Virgin Galactic’s planned fleet of SpaceShipTwo and carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo vehicles.
“Virgin Galactic’s announcement today is an incredibly exciting development for both our state’s economic future and the future of aerospace in general. With these workers here and with these plans firmly in place, I’m certain New Mexico will serve as the launchpad for the rapid industry growth we’ve been expecting for so many years. Today marks the beginning of the next chapter of aerospace in New Mexico,” Lujan Grisham said.