Virgin Galactic Signs Lease for Arizona Manufacturing Facility

Virgin Galactic is expanding operations to support production of its upcoming next-generation Delta-class spacecraft.

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The aerospace giant has signed a long-term lease for a new final assembly manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona, which will be capable of producing up to six spacecraft per year and bringing hundreds of high-skilled jobs in the greater Phoenix area.

Concept art of Virgin Galactic's manufacturing plant in Arizona

Concept art of the Virgin Galactic manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona (Galactic Virgo)

The facility is already under construction and expected to be fully operational by the end of 2023. Financial terms of the lease were not disclosed.

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Based on current schedules, the Delta-class fleet is expected to begin revenue-generating payload flights in late 2025 and private astronaut flights in 2026.

Virgin Galactic, which plans to fly the Delta-class spacecraft on a weekly basis, has set a goal of 400 flights per year from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

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In addition to expanding the manufacturing capability of its Delta-class fleet, Virgin Galactic has entered into an agreement with Boeing subsidiary Aurora Sciences to build two of its next-generation motherships, which will be capable of performing up to 200 launches per year.

The aircraft will be built at Aurora’s facilities in Columbus, Mississippi and Bridgeport, West Virginia, with final assembly taking place at Virgin Galactic’s facilities in Mojave, California. The first new mothership is expected to enter service in 2025.

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The announcements come as Virgin Galactic has delayed commercial service until the first quarter of 2023 due to labor and supply chain issues.

In February, Virgin Galactic commercial spaceflight ticket sales open to the public at $450,000 per seat. Customers are required to pay an initial deposit of $150,000 to hold their place. Approximately $25,000 of this deposit will be non-refundable.

Before the price increase, the company charged between $200,000 and $250,000 each. Virgin Galactic has approximately 800 reservations for commercial spaceflight.

VMS Eve Mothership and VSS Unity Spaceplane

The rocket plane carrying Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson and other crew members takes off from Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico on Sunday, July 11, 2021. ((AP Photo/Andres Leighton)/AP Newsroom)

Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier told analysts on the company’s first-quarter earnings call in May that the company had made “good progress” improving its VSS Unity spaceplane and from her mothership VMS Eve. The improvements are designed to allow a higher theft rate for commercial service.

The next test flight for VSS Unity is currently on track for the fourth quarter of 2022. Meanwhile, the company’s second spacecraft, VSS Imagine, will conduct a first test flight in the first quarter of 2023 and is expected to begin commercial service in mid-2022. 2023. Once Unity and Imagine are both in commercial spaceflight, Virgin Galactic plans to fly into space about three times a month.

Virgin Galactic shares have fallen about 46% since the start of the year.

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