At a press conference today at the New Mexico State Capitol Building in Santa Fe, Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson announced that Virgin Galactic’s development and testing program is to move from Mojave, California to Spaceport America, New Mexico.
Virgin Galactic has partnered with New Mexico in an agreement which saw the state complete construction of Spaceport America, the world’s first, purpose-built commercial spaceport. This announcement signals the final countdown to a regular commercial spaceflight service for paying passengers and science research from the new base.
Virgin Galactic will reposition its space system consisting of carrier aircraft VMS Eve and spaceship VSS Unity from Mojave, California 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.
Commenting on the announcement, Sir Richard Branson said: “Our Virgin Galactic adventure has been intertwined with New Mexico and Spaceport America right from the start and our stories have unfolded together. 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.”
Dan Hicks, CEO of Spaceport America added, “Going to space and exploring the universe is a team effort. It takes strong partnerships that are courageous and also vulnerable. Sir Richard’s visionary leadership to take meaningful risks along with New Mexico leadership’s far-sighted commitment epitomises 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 success here in New Mexico.”