Virgin Galactic pushes Spaceport America’s commercial service to 2023
LAS CRUCES — Spaceport America’s anchor tenant announced a further delay in the start of commercial operations this week, saying labor shortages and supply chain issues would push plans back until 2023.
Virgin Galactic announced its first quarter 2022 results on Thursday. CEO Michael Colglazier said the company was “growing our future fleet, investing in digital manufacturing technologies and shaping our business strategy to deliver an unparalleled customer experience.”
In 2021, Virgin Galactic launched two crewed test flights of its space venue, the VSS Unity, from the New Mexico Spaceport in Sierra County. The second of these, in July, included founder Richard Branson among the crew.
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Since that flight, the company has postponed a scheduled flight with members of the Italian Air Force and launched a nine-month “improvement program” serving Unity as well as the aircraft that served it. transports to high altitude before Unity engages its rocket engine.
Virgin Galactic also cooperated with a brief Federal Aviation Administration investigation into a course deviation during its July 2021 mission.
With its planes and spacecraft grounded for extended maintenance, the company posted a net loss of $93 million for the first quarter, down from its loss of $130 million in the first quarter of 2021.
The company still had cash reserves, plus proceeds from convertible debt, to fund operations and capital expenditures for building its fleet for commercial flights to space. He said he was also making progress at manufacturing sites and suppliers to his fleet.
It was, however, another report of net financial loss revenue amid delays to New Mexico’s taxpayer-funded commercial spaceport service.
The company opened ticket sales, priced at $450,000 per passenger, in February. On Thursday, he announced that 800 reservations had been made. According to earlier reports, some 600 of them had already been hired at prices between $200,000 and $250,000.
Colglazier said earlier in the year the company’s goal was to hold 1,000 reservations — which are currently secured by deposits of $150,000 — for the start of regular commercial service.
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This was previously expected to happen at the end of 2022. Now, regular commercial service won’t happen until at least the first quarter of 2023, although it expects a test flight of the VSS Unity before the end of 2022.
Spaceport America, built with an initial $220 million in public funds, reports that 60% of its revenue comes from leases and fees with a number of tenants and customers.
In addition to Virgin Galactic, spaceport tenants include UP Aerospace, SpinLaunch and HAPSMobile/Aerovironment in addition to aerospace customers who use its launch facilities. An additional tenant, believed to be British air vehicle developer Prismatic Ltd., reportedly signed an operating agreement and contracted to build a new hangar at the spaceport, but neither Spaceport America nor the company directly confirmed the relationship.
It also hosts the annual Spaceport America Cup international rocket competition, which will take place this year in June.