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SPACEPORT AMERICA, N.M. — Virgin Galactic's newly refurbished home base now has a flight under its belt.
The spaceflight company, which aims to start launching paying customers to suborbital space in the near future, declared its "Gateway to Space" building here operational yesterday (Aug. 15).
Virgin - Galactic - VMS - Eve - Carrier
Virgin Galactic's VMS Eve carrier aircraft flies over the company's "Gateway to Space" building at Spaceport America in New Mexico on Aug. 15, 2019.
Eve and Unity have flown many test missions together over the past few years. The most recent two liftoffs — in December 2018 and February of this year — saw Unity reach suborbital space, earning four Virgin Galactic pilots and chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses their commercial astronaut wings.
VMS - Eve - Hangar - Test - Flight
VMS Eve heads toward the hangar after its 90-minute test flight on Aug. 15, 2019.
Eve flew alone yesterday — Unity remains in Mojave, getting its cabin touched up — but the 90-minute flight was no stunt. Virgin Galactic wanted to give pilot Kelly Latimer and co-pilot Mark "Forger" Stucky more familiarity with southern New Mexico's airspace and landscape, and to make sure there was solid data exchange between Eve and mission control, among other objectives.
Things - Team - Members
And things went well, team members said.
"All of that looked really, really good today," Virgin Galactic flight director Bill Kuhlemeier told reporters shortly after Eve touched down.
Eve - Sorties - Spaceport - America - Virgin
Eve has flown such solo sorties from Spaceport America before, but not since 2016, said Virgin Galactic president Mike Moses. And yesterday's flight was the first to use the newly installed mission control center.
"Every other time, we brought a trailer of stuff with us," Moses told Space.com, referring to the temporary mission control the team had to set up here.
Change - Home - Mental - Shift
"The big change is, home is here now," he added. "That's a big mental shift for...
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