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Las Cruces-based Virgin Galactic inks NASA deal for commercial space flights

spaceport-flyover
Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic's spaceship VSS Unity performs a glide flight over Spaceport America in New Mexico.

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico — Economies aren’t just opening up on Earth.

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. has agreed to a deal with NASA to boost commercial human spaceflight to the International Space Station and develop a “robust economy” in space.

Financial terms of the “Space Act Agreement” with NASA were not disclosed, but Virgin Galactic said it would eventually take passengers to the space station, where it occupies space in “low Earth orbit.” The company said it would recruit candidates interested in purchasing private missions to the space station and provide end-to-end resources and astronaut training.

Last month, SpaceX became the first private company to launch people into orbit when its rocket ship blasted off from Earth, ushering in a new era in commercial space travel. The two Americans aboard could spend up to four months at the space station before returning to Earth in a splashdown at sea, reminiscent of the Apollo program in the 1970s.

Virgin has its own launchpad in the New Mexico desert where parts of the new program with NASA, including astronaut training, will take place.

Shares of the company, based in Las Cruces, jumped 11% in trading.

New Mexico / News

Associated Press

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