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Fri, Aug 05, 2022

Virgin Galactic to Construct Astronaut Training Campus

Stop-One for Space Tourists: New Mexico

Virgin Galactic—the spaceflight and space-tourism subsidiary of Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson’s Virgin Group—has announced that it has secured land on which to build an astronaut training facility.

The land—located in Sierra County, New Mexico, near the company’s Las Cruces headquarters—will be home to a new, first-of-its-kind astronaut campus for the exclusive use of future Virgin Galactic astronauts (and up to three of their guests) in advance of spaceflight from the company’s Spaceport America complex.

The campus’s training and dining facilities, guest accommodations, observatory, and wellness-center will sit atop a mesa overlooking New Mexico’s appropriately magnificent desolation—which Virgin seeks to impact minimally by designing its campus in accordance with best conservational practices. Architects have planned the facility’s boldly simple, functional structures to incorporate eco-friendly materials, and exude emotional connectivity to the region’s natural vistas. Conceptual design of the buildings and grounds is underway, and build-out of both the astronaut training campus and Virgin Galactic’s fleet of space-vehicles will proceed concurrently.

Virgin Galactic president and chief business officer Blair Rich states: “At Virgin Galactic, the road to space begins in New Mexico, and we are proud to showcase the state as the launch point for our unique and unparalleled experience. From the point of sale, our Future Astronauts begin a journey that is curated, high-touch and distinctly Virgin, which will culminate at the astronaut campus and training facility. Customers who buy a ticket today will stay and train here, along with their guests, for five nights. While our Future Astronauts are completing spaceflight training, their guests will live out a tailored itinerary of discovery and educational experiences on the campus and throughout southern New Mexico.”

Virgin Galactic has proved a boon to New Mexico’s economy—racking up more than $180-million in intrastate expenditures and $50-million of transactions with over two-hundred local businesses. Currently, Virgin Galactic employs north of two-hundred New Mexico-based personnel—a number the company expects to increase substantially as its space-tourism operations spool-up.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham remarks: "I'm thrilled to welcome the next chapter of Virgin Galactic's continued investment in New Mexico. The new astronaut campus in Sierra County will spur further economic activity for New Mexico, creating more local jobs and attracting new visitors and spending to the area. New Mexico is proud to be home to the future of aerospace innovation and space tourism."



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