Virgin Galactic is preparing for its first rocket-powered test flight from New Mexico, where future customers will begin their journey to space from Spaceport America in the high desert north of Las Cruces.
The company founded by magnate Richard Branson had been hoping to begin sending tourists toward orbit this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic and New Mexico’s relatively strict health guidelines delayed the company’s spaceflight preparations.
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Virgin has been planning to do two more test flights before Branson finally gets to take the joy ride to space he’s been waiting (and paying) for since the company’s founding in 2004. The first of those flights was set for November, but a surge in coronavirus cases in New Mexico last month scuttled that plan. Now there’s a new launch window that opens on Dec. 11.
While the pandemic has slowed preparations in 2020, Virgin Galactic still managed to debut the look of its spaceship cabin for space tourists and signed a deal with NASA to send private astronauts to the International Space Station in the future.
Virgin Galactic unveils its spaceship cabin where tourists…
On Friday, the company also revealed the new look of its new spacesuits, designed in partnership with Under Armour. Each suit is personally tailored for Virgin’s pilots, and the overall design has a modern, or perhaps future-modern look, almost like something out of Star Trek: Discovery.
The test flight planned for this month will also be carrying some small payloads as part of a NASA program. If all goes well, the second test flight will happen in early 2021.