Virgin Galactic moving operations to Spaceport America | KOB 4
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Virgin Galactic moving operations to Spaceport America

Virgin Galactic moving operations to Spaceport America

The Associated Press & KOB
June 03, 2019 01:02 AM

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - British billionaire Richard Branson is taking another concrete step toward offering rides into the close reaches of space for paying passengers.

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Branson announced Friday that Virgin Galactic will immediately begin shifting operations from California to a spaceport and specialized runway in the New Mexico desert in final preparations for commercial flights.

The move of more than 100 staff members will begin immediately and continue through the summer, according to Branson. The company is expected to offer more jobs as operations progress into commercial service.

Branson says Virgin Galactic's development and testing program has advanced enough to make the move, which will continue through the summer.

"Virgin Galactic is coming home to New Mexico where together we will open space to change the world for good,” Branson said.

In February, a new version of Virgin Galactic's winged craft SpaceShipTwo soared at three times the speed of sound to an altitude of nearly 56 miles (99 kilometers) in a test flight over Southern California.

New Mexico has been anticipating the arrival of space tourism for more than a decade. Taxpayers have invested over $200 million in Spaceport America's specialized launch and landing facilities.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham praised the announcement.

"Virgin Galactic's announcement today is an incredibly exciting development for both our state's economic future and the future of aerospace in general," Gov. Lujan Grisham said.

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The Associated Press & KOB

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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