SPACEPORT AMERICA, N.M. (KRQE) – Newly released video shows Virgin Galactic’s VMS Eve landing back at New Mexico’s Spaceport Monday. The relocation comes 16 months after the twin-fuselage plane left the state in 2021 for upgrades in California.
VMS Eve is the spaceship carrying aircraft that Virgin will rely on for commercial space travel. Its designed to carry the company’s spaceship to roughly 50,000 feet before dropping the spacecraft, which then rockets to the edge of space.
Additional video posted to Twitter on Tuesday shows a New Mexico-based crew and Virgin’s VSS Unity outside of Spaceport America hanger, welcoming the carrier aircraft. During a stockholder earnings call Tuesday, Virgin reaffirmed it is targeting regular commercial space travel by the second quarter of 2023, sometime between April and June.
But before that can happen, Virgin has more testing ahead involving both the aircraft and spacecraft, which are now in the same location. Among the first steps, crews will latch the spaceship to VMS Eve, then run diagnostics.
The next visible test will be sometime in the coming weeks when VMS Eve is expected to fly with the Unity spaceship attached. “They will fly to altitude and release Unity to perform a solo glide back to land at Spaceport,” said Virgin Galactic Astronaut and Flight Test Engineer Colin Bennet.
After that test, Virgin will perform another fully-crewed rocket powered flight to space. The last one of those tests happened in July 2021.