NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – It’s a big day in New Mexico space history. Saturday morning, Virgin Galactic completed its first-ever spaceflight from Spaceport America. This makes New Mexico the third state to launch humans into space.
Virgin Galactic officials say Saturday’s flight is the first step toward commercial space flights here in New Mexico. The VSS Unity achieved a speed of Mach 3 after being released from mothership, VMS Eve. The spaceship flew independently for about 30 minutes and reached space, at an altitude of just over 55 miles before making a runway landing.
Spaceport America officials say today’s successful launch will be a catalyst for educational and economical opportunities. “For New Mexico, what that means is visitors here probably monthly at first, then weekly, then daily who will be visiting us and spending money in our local economy. It means more jobs in aerospace. It means more jobs in tourism and it puts New Mexico on the map,” says Scott McLaughlin, Executive Director of Spaceport America.
To celebrate, the Zia symbol was placed on the exterior of the spaceship. They also flew green chile seeds to honor New Mexico’s agricultural and culinary history.
At least two more test flights are planned before tourists take flight. Spaceport America officials tell News 13 that’s expected to start in 2022.
The New Mexico Spaceport Authority began its operations in July 2006. The first rocket launch at Spaceport America was that September.