Virgin Galactic planning an astronaut campus in New Mexico

SIERRA COUNTY, N.M. (AP) — Aerospace and space travel company Virgin Galactic announced Tuesday that it’s planning to build an astronaut campus and training facility in southern New Mexico.

Company officials said in a statement that it has secured land for the facility outside Truth or Consequences near the location of Spaceport America.

They said the planned facility will include training facilities, accommodations, tailored experiences, an observatory, wellness center and dining option and it will only be available to future astronauts of Virgin Galactic and some of their guests.

There’s no immediate word on when construction of the project will begin.

“I’m thrilled to welcome the next chapter of Virgin Galactic’s continued investment in New Mexico,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement Tuesday. “The new astronaut campus in Sierra County will spur further economic activity for New Mexico, creating more local jobs and attracting new visitors and spending to the area.”

Last month, Virgin Galactic announced it had selected the Phoenix suburb of Mesa as the site where it will assemble its next class of rocket ships with the facility capable of producing up to six spaceships per year.

Officials said the Delta class suborbital spaceplanes will be designed to fly weekly, supporting the company’s target of 400 flights annually from Spaceport America.

They said the first of the spaceships is expected to start payload flights in late 2025 with private astronaut flights in 2026.

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