Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space
- Oct 18, 2011
Richard Branson and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez have dedicated the 'Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space' as WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo soared over Spaceport America.
Looking skyward, more than 800 guests marveled at Virgin Galactic’s commercial space vehicles as they soared through the skies of southern New Mexico during the dedication ceremonies of Virgin Galactic’s new home at Spaceport America.
The flight of WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo was the highlight of a spectacular ceremony which featured the dedication of the Sir Norman Foster-designed building and announcements of new scientific and educational customers for the world's first commercial space line.
Richard Branson was joined by his children Holly and Sam at the special event. The trio, who will be the first commercial passengers on SpaceShipTwo, brought the event to a spectacular conclusion by officially naming the world’s first purpose-built spaceline terminal as the 'Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space' while rappelling together from the roof of the striking new building.
The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space, a combined terminal and hangar facility, will support up to two WhiteKnightTwo and five SpaceShipTwo vehicles. In addition, The iconic 120,000 square-foot Gateway building will house all of the company’s astronaut preparation and celebration facilities, a mission control center, a friends and family area and space committed to public access.
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, who participated in the dedication ceremony with U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce, commented: "New Mexico has a long tradition of pioneering innovation in aerospace and related technologies.
"Our partnership with Virgin Galactic is a perfect example of how government and private industry can work together to drive economic growth and science education."
Virgin Galactic CEO and President George Whitesides said the company continues to make excellent and unequalled progress, under the motto ‘safety is our North Star.’ He said: "Flight testing by prime contractor Scaled Composites is progressing very well, with 30 SpaceShipTwo flights and 75 WhiteKnightTwo flights to date.
"We are also recruiting aggressively and assembling a highly talented and accomplished workforce focused on safe commercial operations led by Vice President of Operations Mike Moses, who will run our efforts at the spaceport."
In addition, the company is taking steps to expand its mission beyond commercial space tourism. The company announced last week that it had been awarded a contract under NASA’s Flight Opportunity Program for research flights to a potential value of $4.5m. During the ceremony, it was announced that new flight reservations have been made by research and education institutions to support research initiatives and inspire students. Purdue University,Space Florida, the Challenger Center for Space Science Education and Southwest Research Institute were recognised as the most recent participants in this new growth area for Virgin Galactic.
Present for the dedication ceremony were over 150 Virgin Galactic customers from 21 countries who have already made deposits to fly to space. A total of over 450 future astronauts worldwide have signed on to join Virgin Galactic for a voyage into space. Go to Virgin Galactic to find out more about the launch and Gateway To Space.