LAS CRUCES, NM., Sept. 11, 2014 (NMSA PR) – Virgin Galactic, the privately-funded space company owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS, deployed WhiteKnightTwo to Spaceport America for two days of flying in the New Mexico and El Paso air space. With this exercise, the world’s first commercial spaceline continues its test program incorporating pilots and team members who are responsible for the flight program.
The aim of the test flights was to continue to familiarize the spaceline with scheduling and the New Mexico airspace processes. Over the two days, WK2 flew several simulated launch profiles, spaceship approaches, and a divert to El Paso airport putting Virgin Galactic one step closer to launch.
“I am delighted to see WhiteKnightTwo flying in the skies of New Mexico. This is a great step on such an incredible journey,” said Christine Anderson, Executive Director of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. “Congratulations to Virgin Galactic on this exciting venture.”
During the exercises, WK2 conducted Spaceport practice approaches, flew on simulated launch missions, refueled and changed crews, and landed at El Paso airport on a simulated divert profile.
“Bringing WK2 and crew back to New Mexico is part of our ongoing preparations and puts us one step closer to our first commercial flight,” said George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic. “We thank NMSA for their continued role and leadership in realizing so many people’s dreams for space travel.”
With the aforementioned activities, Virgin Galactic continues taking solid steps forward towards the commencement of safe and efficient commercial operations of the first spaceline in history.
ABOUT VIRGIN GALACTIC
Virgin Galactic, owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and aabar Investments PJS, is on track to be the world’s first commercial spaceline. To date, the company has accepted more than $80 million in deposits from approximately 700 individuals, which is 20% more than the total number of people who have ever gone to space. The new spaceship (SpaceShipTwo, VSS Enterprise) and carrier craft (WhiteKnightTwo, VMS Eve) have both been developed for Virgin Galactic’s vehicle fleet by Mojave-based Scaled Composites. Founded by Burt Rutan, Scaled developed SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 claimed the $10 million Ansari X Prize as the world’s first privately developed manned spacecraft. Virgin Galactic’s new reusable vehicles, which will be manufactured by The Spaceship Company in Mojave, Calif., share much of the same basic design, but are being built to carry six customers, or the equivalent scientific research payload to space. The vehicles will allow an out-of-the-seat, zero-gravity experience with astounding views of the planet from the black sky of space for tourist astronauts and a unique microgravity platform for researchers. The VSS Enterprise and VMS Eve test exhaustive test flight program is in its final stages leading to Virgin Galactic commercial operations, which will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
ABOUT SPACEPORT AMERICA
Spaceport America is the first purpose-built commercial spaceport in the world. The launch complex, situated on 18,000 acres adjacent to the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico, has been providing commercial vertical launch services since 2006. Spaceport America has hosted 20 vertical launches thus far. The New Mexico Spaceport Authority continues to work closely with tenants Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, along with other flight customers in support of the commercial space industry. For more information, please visit: www.spaceportamerica.com. Images and HD video of Spaceport America can be found by visiting: www.spaceportamerica.com/press-center/. Tours of Spaceport America are available: www.spaceportamerica.com/plan-a-visit/preview-tours/. Find Spaceport America on Facebook or follow us on Twitter: @Spaceport_NM