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Virgin Galactic Brings Jobs, Tourists To Las Cruces

Virgin Galactic officially opened the doors to its office in Las Cruces on Thursday.

Company representatives said the office could bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars to the area. They told ABC-7 this is just the beginning of stimulating the local economy with jobs and tourism.

“The attention of the world is going to be focused on those flights (into space) when we get going,” George Whitesides, chief executive officer of Virgin Galactic, said.

Whitesides said in the next year, the company will launch its first commercial flight into space, and that will boost the tourism in the state.

“My hope is that that has a lot of different benefits. It will drive tourism. It will drive education. People who want to go into aerospace sciences may come to (New Mexico State University) because it’s right next door to the spaceport,” Whitesides said.

Leading up to that launch, the company plans on hiring people in the area for all kinds of jobs.

“We have a wide breadth of activity happening out at the spaceport, so we’ll need everybody, from the janitorial services, the hosting services, the catering services, right the way through to the rocket scientists, ultimately,” said Virgin Galactic senior program manager Mark Butler.

Officials said the company is also collaborating with local businesses.

“We have a policy of, where possible, we like to use local services, and that’s good for the economy. It’s good for us,” Butler told ABC-7.

Whitesides said this office is going to be a huge draw for the state of New Mexico.

“We’re going to have millions of people over the course of a year come to New Mexico to see our spaceships, to visit Spaceport America and hopefully to visit some of the other things from White Sands (Missile Range) and Alamogordo to, who knows, the UFO museum in Roswell,” Whitesides said.

Officials said they will be posting job openings soon.

The company’s first commercial flight into space is scheduled to launch in 2013. Officials said it will be a historic event.

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