SpaceShipTwo Unity is mated to our mothership, VMS Eve, as preparations continue for our first spaceflight from Spaceport America, New Mexico. | Photo courtesy Virgin Galactic/Facebook
Earlier this week, officials with Virgin Galactic announced its new flight window since it paused the spaceflight preparations in response to state guidelines from the New Mexico Department of Health to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Officials share that the new flight window will open on December 11, pending good weather conditions and technical readiness.
This flight expects to fulfill a number of objectives, including testing elements of the customer cabin as well as assessing the upgraded horizontal stabilizers and flight controls during boost. The flight will also carry payloads as part of the NASA Flight Opportunities Program.
The flight will be conducted by essential personnel only. No guests or media will be onsite, in accordance with company and state COVID-19 protocols.
Company officials share that the operational footprint at the 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.
“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,” Michael Colglazier, CEO, Virgin Galactic said.
While on this occasion no media or guests will be allowed onsite, our team will endeavour 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.”
Gov. 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.”