"Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space" Open for Business
October 18, 2011 9:49 AM
Sir Richard Branson and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez at the dedication ceremony
Sir Richard Branson and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez held a dedication ceremony for the new terminal this week
Sir Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Group, launched the world's first commercial space line at a dedication ceremony in southern New Mexico this week alongside New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez.
Virgin Galactic, a company within Branson's Virgin Group that will offer sub-orbital
to the public, space science missions and launches of small satellites, will provide space tourism from Spaceport America in a desert in New Mexico.
Virgin Galactic and New Mexico officials reached an agreement to build the $209 million spaceport six years ago. Branson hoped the first flight would take place in 2007, but delays have pushed it until 2011.
Approximately 800 guests, 150 of which have already purchased tickets for Virgin Galactic flights, attended the dedication ceremony to watch the flight of jet-powered cargo aircraft
. At the ceremony, Branson officially named the spaceline terminal the "Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space."
"Today is another history-making day for Virgin Galactic," said Branson. "We are here with a group of incredible people who are helping us lead the way in creating one of the most important new industrial sectors of the 21st century. We've never wavered in our commitment to the monumental task of pioneering safe, affordable and clean access to space, or to demonstrate that we mean business at each step along the way."
The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space is a combined terminal and hangar facility with the capacity to hold five SpaceShipTwo vehicles and two WhiteKnightTwo vehicles. It will also hold a mission control center, astronaut preparation facility and a friends and family area. The building is 120,000 square feet and meets LEED Gold standards for environmental quality.
Branson and his two children, Sam and Holly, will be the first commercial passengers on the SpaceShipTwo.
"For me, my children and our ever growing community of future astronauts, many of whom are with us today, standing in front of the
Gateway to Space as it glimmers majestically under the New Mexican sun brings our space adventure so close we can almost taste it," said Branson.
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