This story is a staff report from The Paper.


Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier gave updates in a company press release and investor call on Monday that the Las Cruces company plans to create more than 1,000 new jobs as the commercial spaceflight firm develops its “Delta” line of spaceships that will be designed to fly once per week when they are ready.

According to Albuquerque Business First, Virgin Galactic has already leased a facility for the engineering and design of new spaceships and its plans for the next generation of carrier aircraft that will fly out of an unspecified location in California, Colglazier said during Monday’s call with investors. Meanwhile, additional operations will be brought to a location that has yet to be selected. The company has not released if those additional operations will be in NM.

“In addition to the conception-design work, we’ve been exploring options to house our Delta class spaceship facilities as we will need more space than is available at our [Mojave, California] factory,” Colglazier said Albuquerque Business First reported. “We’ve been in contact with multiple municipalities about locations and have received interest from at least three states. We expect interest to grow as we estimate we’ll be creating more than 1,000 new jobs.” No word on whether New Mexico is one of those states that has expressed interest.

The announcement follows the company’s decision to put off the start of commercial operations until the end of 2022 while unveiling improvements and upgrades to their new space vehicles. . The move also comes as the company prepares for its ambitious flight schedule, which includes 400 flights annually per launch site.

Virgin Galactic also gave an update on its ongoing ticket private flight sales, which shot up to a starting price of $450,000 per seat following Richard Branson’s spaceflight in July from New Mexico. The company had a goal of 1,000 flight reservations and 700 have been sold. The price of a ticket? A mere $450,000, significantly higher than the $250,000 price tag during Virgin Galactic’s initial ticketing round years ago. To secure a ticket, customers had to put down a $150,000 deposit, $25,000 of which was non-refundable, according to Colglazier. 

“We are entering our fleet enhancement period with a clear roadmap for increasing the durability, reliability and predictability of our vehicles in preparation for commercial service next year,” said Colglazier in the press release. “Demand for space travel is strong, and we’ve been selling seats ahead of the pace we had planned. This demonstrates the incredible market for our product and appreciation for the value of the unique experience we offer. It’s a pivotal time for the company as we transition from a prototyping space innovator to the global, scaled, commercial operation we are becoming.”