Virgin Galactic has began moving to a spaceport, thus marking the start of “the final countdown” to a regular commercial spaceflight service and science research from the U.S.
Virgin Galactic has began moving its spaceline staff and space vehicles from California to their commercial operations headquarters at Spaceport America, New Mexico, the company announced on May 10, 2019.
Hopes are to finish the move by the end of summer 2019. Virgin Galactic plans to relocate to Spaceport America its space system consisting of carrier aircraft VMS Eve and spaceship VSS Unity, where the final test flights are to take place.
Virgin Galactic’s sister manufacturing organisation, The Spaceship Company, will remain based in Mojave (California), working on planned fleet of SpaceShipTwo and carrier aircraft WhiteKnightTwo vehicles.
Spaceport America is the world’s first, purpose-built commercial spaceport, in which Virgin Galactic intends to center its commercial spaceflight activities. Once its vehicles and operations are ready for service, that is.
The company promises it will not take too long, claiming its development and testing program has now “advanced sufficiently”. Back in December 2018, Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity made its maiden flight on the edge of space on December 13, 2018, marking “the very first time” that a crewed vehicle built for commercial passenger service has reached space.
“The first photograph of Earth from space was taken over New Mexico in October of 1946,”George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company is quoted in the company’s statement. “How inspiring and appropriate that the state will soon host the first regular commercial spaceflight service, which will enable thousands of people to see Earth from space with their own eyes. We are deeply grateful to the citizens and leadership of New Mexico for having the vision to create a better future for their children and all of humanity”