Reemerging from a state-mandated shutdown, New Mexico-based Virgin Galactic announced that its next flight window will open on Dec. 11. “Pending good weather conditions and technical readiness,” VG’s SpaceShipTwo will test “elements of the customer cabin” as well as assess changes to the horizontal stabilizers and flight controls. Based in Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico, the company has developed its own base for flying space tourism.
According to Virgin, the flight will carry payloads as part of the NASA Flight Opportunities Program and be “conducted by essential personnel only. No guests or media will be onsite, in accordance with company and state COVID-19 protocols. The operational footprint at our New Mexico facilities has been further minimized in the past 2 weeks. Only essential staff will be onsite to support the pre-flight operations ahead of the flight and the day of flight.”
Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said: “With safety as our core priority, we remain committed to completing our first powered flight in New Mexico. In accordance with local government guidelines and safety protocols, we have minimized the number of people onsite to the greatest degree possible. While on this occasion no media or guests will be allowed onsite, our team will endeavor to capture and share the beautiful images with the world after the flight has been completed. We look forward to completing this important milestone in our test flight program in the coming weeks.”
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said, “I’m grateful to Virgin Galactic, as I am to every business in our state, for their commitment to safety in this difficult time. This is an exciting announcement that demonstrates we have gotten back on track in a safe and speedy manner. New Mexico’s future on the cutting edge of aerospace development is brighter than ever.”