Spaceport America will be home to Virgin Galactic operations. // © 2010
Spaceport America/Virgin Galactic
Last month, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority (NMSA) dedicated the nearly two-mile long Governor Bill Richardson Spaceway at Spaceport America, which will be the future home to Virgin Galactic’s space flight operations. New Mexico state governor Bill Richardson, Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson and approximately 30 of the more than 380 Virgin Galactic future astronauts attended the event, which also included a flyover and landing by Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo, in a captive carry with SpaceShipTwo.
“We are celebrating the world’s first spaceway at the world’s first purpose-built, commercial spaceport,” said Richardson. “New Mexico is not only helping to launch the commercial spaceflight industry, but we are launching new jobs and opportunities for the people of southern New Mexico. Today marks a significant milestone on our historic and exciting journey.”
“It is incredible to be here today with governor Richardson and be part of the runway dedication at Spaceport America,” said Sir Richard Branson. “To see for myself how far the construction has come from when I last visited New Mexico is truly inspiring. I, for one, can’t wait for the grand opening; today has brought it one step closer to reality for me.”
During the ceremony, Branson took some time to update the press on the progress of Virgin Galactic, his latest endeavor.
“The last few weeks have been some of the most exciting in Virgin Galactic’s development,” Branson said. “Our spaceship is flying beautifully and will soon be making powered flights, propelled by our new hybrid rocket motor, which is also making excellent progress in its own test program. The investment deal with our new partners Aabar has successfully closed, securing funding for the remainder of the development program and we are seeing unprecedented numbers of people coming forward to secure their own reservations for this incredible experience.”
Spaceport America’s terminal hangar facility, which is nearing completion, was built to meet Gold LEED standards and will serve as the operating hub for Virgin Galactic. It is expected to house up to two WhiteKnightTwos and five SpaceShipTwos, in addition to all of Virgin’s astronaut preparation facilities and mission control.