Virgin Galactic's Spaceport America is no longer an empty hangar

17 Août, 2019, 03:22 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Virgin Galactic's Spaceport America

The company said the completion of the interior work on the Gateway to Space building means the spaceport can now "support Virgin Galactic's flight requirements". The company said it has additional test flights planned and will be ready to start flying paying customers in the first half of 2020.

Under Virgin Galactic's system, the mother ship will carry Unity to about 45,000 feet up, at which point the spaceship detaches from Eve and fires up its rockets to shoot into space, where paying passengers will be able to float for a few minutes in microgravity and view the curvature of the Earth.

Virgin said it opted for "an elegant, experience-focused concept".

Virgin Galactic posted on social media earlier this week that its carrier plane had landed in New Mexico and its main operating base was now at the spaceport.

"It's just a wonderful, special day for us", Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides told reporters here this morning.

The testing of WhiteKnightTwo and the spaceport facilities is part of a final push by Virgin Galactic to complete testing of the suborbital spaceflight system and begin commercial operations some time next year.

Spaceport America is no longer just a shiny shell of hope that space tourism would one day launch from this remote spot in the New Mexico desert.

There's also space behind two massive sliding doors to accommodate two of Virgin Galactic's carrier planes and a fleet of six-passenger rocket ships.

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The Foster + Partners Gateway to Space facility was built so Virgin Galactic could provide an unforgettable experience to its customers who want to experience suborbital spaceflights, Space.com noted. There's also an interactive digital walkway which serves as a reminder of the lofty expedition ahead.

The second floor, which houses the center's mission control, is named Cirrus, representing light, air and flight.

The second floor, named Cirrus, is home to Mission Control, the Mission Briefing Room, the Pilot Corps and the rest of the Flight Operations team. And like Gaia, Cirrus includes floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views of the runway and landscape below.

VMS Eve will return to Mojave later this year to pick up Spaceship Unity, Mackay said. "The arrival of VMS Eve in New Mexico signifies the start of the next important phase - mother ship operations prior to (Spaceship Unity VSS's own) flight operations".

"We were practicing one of the two different routes we're going to use when we fly SpaceShipTwo", said Virgin Galactic flight director Bill Kuhlemeier of this latest flight, including getting used to coordinating airspace with both the Federal Aviation Administration and nearby White Sands Missile Range. Moses said in an interview that the company is continuing to outfit the cabin of the vehicle for commercial flights.

Virgin Galactic has had several successful test flights, but there's still no indication when its first actual commercial spaceflight into LEO will take place.

To date, more than 600 customers from 60 countries have bought tickets to fly at $250,000 apiece.

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