I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Commercial space flights on Virgin ships delayed again
Even though the terminal-hangar that will serve as the operational base for Virgin Galactic is slated for completion later this year, space travelers will have to wait at least two more years before experiencing zero-gravity aboard the commercial aircrafts.
The inaugural flight for a public clientele has been pushed back several times. At least one wealthy aspiring space-travel had to take his name off the flight list because of the ongoing delays. Initial plans had the first takeoff occur in 2008.
Here’s more from the La Cruces Sun-News:
Virgin Galactic representatives have declined numerous times to specify a timetable for the start of flights at Spaceport America, saying that depends on when the company finishes its vehicle development and can guarantee them as safe for flights. But during a ceremonial dedication of the spaceport runway in October 2010, Branson said then he expected operations to start by at least the spring of 2012.
New Mexico Spaceport Authority Executive Director Christine Anderson said Virgin Galactic has the correct approach toward the timetable for starting suborbital flights.
“It’s when it’s safe – that’s the right answer,” she said.
In the meantime, the spaceport authority must focus upon attracting businesses other than Virgin Galactic to the facility, said Rick Holdridge, spaceport authority chairman.
“Our goal is to get other people in there,” he said.
In all, about 460 people to date have booked spaceflight seats, depositing about $58 million, Virgin Galactic officials said last week during a dedication ceremony for the terminal-hangar.
The project is tax-payer funded, using $209 million towards building the site, called Spaceport America.
New Mexico is home to several aeronautic and space discovery projects. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory just completed a decade-long renovation that upped its technological capacities; previously, the often-filmed space center relied on technology from the 1970s. The facility is requesting name changes in recognition of its new array of services.
And as reported by The New Mexico Independent previously, two research firms in New Mexico were awarded $4 million to develop technology for a set of NASA’s unmanned flight programs.