Virgin Galactic will move its Mojave Air and Space Port in California to New Mexico’s Spaceport America. Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic’s founder, and Gov. Lujan Grisham made the announcement Friday.
According to Branson, Virgin Galactic’s development and testing program have advanced sufficiently that they can now move the spaceline staff and space vehicles to Spaceport New Mexico. The move will happen this summer and involves more than 100 staff.
“We’re now finally ready to bring you a first class spaceflight coming to New Mexico and it is coming home now,” said Sir Branson.
Virgin Galactic is trying to become the first ever commercial spaceliner offering flights for regular people to travel in space. Sir Branson says his goals for space-lift are for people to see the earth from a new perspective.
The governor says the company’s move from California to New Mexico will put the state on the map globally. “With Virgin Galactic’s presence here we are not first in the country to have commercial space flight, but the first in the world,” said Lujan Grisham.
A few years ago, New Mexico cut a deal with Virgin Galactic. The state threw down about $218 million to build Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences. In return, the company would move 100 Virgin Galactic workers to southern New Mexico. To support and continue funding for Spaceport America, the Dona Ana and Sierra Counties put .25% of sales tax towards the upkeep.
Virgin Galactic says it will complete its final test flights from New Mexico.
“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.”
-Sir Richard Branson
In December, the company sent a couple of pilots to the edge of the space and back in the White Knight Two, officially the first manned space vehicle built for commercial passengers to reach space. The launch from the Mojave Air and Space Port in Southern California marked a milestone toward Virgin Galactic’s longtime venture of taking tourists to space.
The Spaceship Company (TSC) will remain based in the Mojave where it will continue to build Virgin Galactic’s fleet of SpaceShipTwo and carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo vehicles.
At Friday’s conference, Sir Richard Branson could not say when the first commercial flight will launch. However, Virgin Galactic is aiming to launch its first flight within a year.
About 600 people have already put down $20,000 deposits for the flights. Tickets cost $250,000 per person for the two and a half hour flight in space.
People interested in applying for jobs at Spaceport America can view job listings here.