This morning’s successful test flight by Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity, touching space for the first time at an altitude of 51.4 miles, is a significant milestone, bringing suborbital flights from nearby Spaceport America a major step closer, commented Jennifer Bales, Executive Director of Visit Las Cruces.
“As the gateway to Spaceport America, Las Cruces is positioned to benefit substantially from future Virgin Galactic flights once test flights are completed and regular sub-orbital flights begin,” Bales noted as she congratulated Virgin Galactic CEO Richard Branson and the two pilots, pilot Mark Stucky and co-pilot Frederick C.J. Sturckow, who achieved that milestone this morning. The flight also carried four NASA experiments, and future flights will also carry research payloads for various clients.
Public tours of Spaceport America already depart from Las Cruces, and as Virgin Galactic and other Spaceport America tenants gear up their operations, Las Cruces’ economy will experience increased tourism, as well as impacts on local businesses from staff who will be located in the community for short- and long-term stays.
More than 600 eager civilian astronauts have paid the $250,000 price tag, Virgin Galactic has said, and their adventures into space will include a brief period of weightlessness and the dramatic opportunity to see the earth’s curvature from space.
“Media attention to these ground-breaking experiences will also bring increased awareness of Las Cruces to audiences around the globe,” Bales concluded. “We are delighted to welcome them all to visit Las Cruces!”
Virgin Galactic tweeted a few videos after successfully sending a crewed spaceship to space, marking the first time since 2011 that humans have taken off from American soil and gone into space.
SpaceShipTwo, welcome to space. 🚀🌎 pic.twitter.com/tHHNSlkrd0
— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) December 13, 2018
— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) December 14, 2018
About Las Cruces
Nestled in southern New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley between the Rio Grande River and Organ Mountains, Las Cruces boasts a rich history of western legends such as Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett. Las Cruces also has increasingly close connections to space tourism as the gateway to New Mexico and the United States’ first commercial spaceport, Spaceport America; an Annual Space Festival; and a full-size replica of Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo. Las Cruces partners with several aerospace companies including Virgin Galactic, Boeing, and NASA. The city blends a unique variety of such special events, attractions, culture and historical sites, as well as superb weather, with 350 days of sunshine per year. Las Cruces was recently cited as one of the most scenic Southwest cities by Expedia users, and its annual Country Music Festival has been nominated as ‘Event of the Year’ by the Rocky Mountain Country Music Awards. For more information on all Las Cruces has to offer, go to www.visitlascruces.com or contact Visit Las Cruces at (575) 541-2444.