Virgin Galactic, Spaceport America sign agreement for spaceflights from NM

Posted at: 05/29/2014 9:07 AM
Updated at: 05/29/2014 10:54 PM
By: Erica Zucco, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Thursday, Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America announced that they’ve cleared one of the final hurdles to launching flights into space.

They say they’ve signed a joint agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration that sets guidelines for how trips to space will be integrated into the National Airspace System. The agreement also describes how the FAA’s Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority will work to share clear air space for SpaceShipTwo.

Recently released simulations show what a flight will be like for those who can afford the initial $200-250,000 tickets for a trip into space.

“It's an interesting concept and it's very exciting I think that it is happening in New Mexico,” Pamela Sandoval said.

Workers from Virgin Galactic will handle some of those logistics from the FAA facility at Paseo and Louisiana, though most of the action will remain in Southern New Mexico, an area expected to get a boost when flights start.

“I know they've put a lot of finances and energy into it and it could be a very good thing for our state, bring in a lot of tourists and a lot of people that are going to spend money and that could be good for us, bring jobs,” Sandoval said.

Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America have cleared most of the hurdles to already including test flights. The first commercial flights are still on track to begin at the end of the year or sometime in 2015.