By Kevin Robinson-Avila | Albuquerque Journal
Virgin Galactic’s mothership VMS Eve soared across the southern New Mexico desert above Spaceport America Thursday morning conducting test maneuvers in preparation for commercial space flights the company plans to launch here.
Company pilots flew Eve on Monday from the Mojave Air and Space Port in Southern California to Virgin Galactic’s new operations center at the New Mexico spaceport near Upham, about 50 miles north of Las Cruces. The mothership will carry the company’s passenger rocket, VSS Unity, part of the way to space when commercial flights with paying customers begin.
It’s now permanently parked in the hanger at Virgin Galactic’s newly opened “Gateway to Space” — a three-story, futuristic operations center that the company unveiled for the first time on Thursday to select members of the media.
“It’s a historic day,” said Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides, who told Journalists that the Spaceport has now reached “operational readiness.”
It’s still unclear how soon commercial flights to suborbit will begin. The Unity is still in California where the company is finishing work on the interior cabin. In a few months, the company expects to move it to New Mexico, where more testing will be done before starting commercial flights.