Virgin Galactic announces plans to move its operations to New Mexico in anticipation of the commercial space missions they have in store.
The company's move is expected to begin immediately and proceed through the summer season.
Virgin Galactic In New Mexico
Key executives from the company, including Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson, announced the move during a press conference at the New Mexico State Capitol Building in Santa Fe, on Friday, May 10.
According to Branson and other officials, Virgin Galactic will relocate their spaceline staff and spacecrafts from its current location in Mojave, California to the newly completed commercial operations headquarters at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
The 70,000-square-kilometer Spaceport America is the world's first purpose-built spaceport, constructed by the state of New Mexico. In a partnership with the state, Virgin Galactic committed to use the facilities as the base of their commercial spaceflight activities once the site is ready for use.
"Our Virgin Galactic adventure has been intertwined with New Mexico and Spaceport America right from the start and our stories have unfolded together," said Branson in a statement. "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."
During the press conference, Virgin Galactic CEO George Whiteside revealed that the company is working on the interiors of their facility in Spaceport America, working on the finishing touches of the staff zones and in the middle of customer astronaut training areas.
Virgin Galactic's Commercial Plans
With the facility ready to host Virgin Galactic, the company is only waiting for sister manufacturing organization The Spaceship Company to complete the cabin interiors of their vehicles VMS Eve and VSS Unity. Final tests for these aircrafts will be in New Mexico.
However, The Spaceship Company will remain in California to finish the construction of SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo vehicles.
Virgin Galactic hasn't announced plans for their first commercial flight to space, but it could start getting offered as early as this year. After all, the SpaceShipTwo vehicle VSS Unity has already completed several test flights, including two in which the spacecraft reached suborbital space.
Passengers who want to reserve a seat on SpaceShipTwo for a quick trip to suborbital space will need to shell out $250,000 for the experience.