Virgin Galactic To Build HQ At New Mexico Spaceport

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Virgin Galactic will locate its world headquarters and Mission Control in New Mexico, in a deal with the state that will launch the creation of a $200 million spaceport on a 27-square-mile site in a remote part of the state. Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic, announced the deal on Tuesday, saying New Mexico is an ideal operations base, with a favorable climate, uncrowded airspace, low population density, high altitude, and stunning scenery. "Our activities will prove the commercial viability and excellent safety technology behind private personal spaceflight and give birth to a new industry in New Mexico," he said. Virgin Galactic has contracted with Burt Rutan's Spaceship Company to buy five commercial versions of SpaceShipOne for space tourism. Already 38,000 people have put down deposits for seats. First flights are expected to launch from Mojave in 2008, with the New Mexico site coming on line in 2008 or 2009.