Virgin Galactic nearer goal of 2020 ‘private astronaut’ flights

Space Science

Virgin Galactic’s “spaceship 2.”

MYSTERY WIRE — Virgin Galactic has one spaceship finished and another one about to roll off the assembly line.

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The company tells The Associated Press it plans to start commercial operations sometime this year. But so far, the SS Unity — Virgin Galactic’s first ship — has only performed two test flights to space.

The company is staffing up (130 employees) at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico and started a program in late 2019 to prepare its first customers for the experience.

“Spaceship 2” this week reached the “weight on wheels” milestone.

“We have over 600 customers around the world that have signed up to fly aboard spaceship 2,” according to Enrico Palmero, president of Virgin Galactic’s The Spaceship Company. “And to serve them … we need a fleet of spaceships.”

“So we’re not stopping with two spaceships,” he said. “Our business plan sees us building out five spaceships by the end 2023, and we’re well on our way to that milestone.”

Palmero said “weight on wheels” is an important milestone “because it gets us closer to having an operational fleet of spaceships. This is a critical milestone in the build of any airplane or any spaceship because it signifies major structural assembly is complete.”

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