TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (KRQE) – Virgin Galactic is bringing more space-related development to southern New Mexico. Their latest move: making strides toward a “first of its kind astronaut campus.”
The idea is to build facilities for Virgin Galactic space travelers, the so-called “Virgin Galactic Future Astronauts,” according to a news release. The company says the campus will include accommodations, training facilities, an observatory, and dining options.
So far, none of that has been built yet. The company says it has secured the necessary land near existing Spaceport America, outside Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.
“The road to space begins in New Mexico, and we are proud to showcase the state as the launch point for our unique and unparalleled experience,” Blair Rich, Virgin Galactic president and chief business officer of commercial and consumer operations, said in a news release Tuesday. “From the point of sale, our Future Astronauts begin a journey that is curated, high-touch and distinctly Virgin, which will culminate at the astronaut campus and training facility. Customers who buy a ticket today will stay and train here, along with their guests, for five nights. While our Future Astronauts are completing spaceflight training, their guests will live out a tailored itinerary of discovery and educational experiences on the campus and throughout southern New Mexico.”
Earlier this year, Virgin Galactic announced that they were delaying the commercial space flight program until 2023. They cite supply chain issues as a key reason.
Still, Jeff Michael, a communications specialist at Virgin Galactic told KRQE News 13 that they already have over 800 reservations for their “Future Astronaut” program. And he says “it continues to increase.”
Virgin Galactic wants the astronaut campus to focus on sustainability. The plan is to conserve and re-use water, incorporate eco-friendly materials, and rely on low-carbon transportation, they say.
The design phase is currently underway. Once that’s complete, Virgin Galactic says they plan to rely on local suppliers and businesses. They say the company has already spent more than $180 million within the state, $50 million of which were spent on supplies from local businesses.
In their release to media, Virgin Galactic did not indicate when the astronaut campus might be completed. But given the scope of the design, it could be some time before the facilities are up and running.