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Virgin Galactic Gains FAA Approval for Space Flights From New Mexico

May 29, 2014 3:30 pm

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Although all current competitors in the space tourism market are slowing moving towards launch, none have successfully completed a trip leaving questions about the reality of such trips open to critics.

— Samantha Shankman

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Luke MacGregor  / Reuters

Entrepreneur Richard Branson waves a model of the LauncherOne cargo spacecraft from a window of an actual size model of SpaceShipTwo on display, after Virgin Galactic's LauncherOne announcement and news conference, at the Farnborough Airshow 2012 in southern England in this July 11, 2012 file photo. Luke MacGregor / Reuters


Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America have signed an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration that clears the path for space flights from New Mexico.

Virgin Galactic says Thursday the agreement sets the parameters for how the space missions will be integrated into the National Airspace System.

The agreement spells out how the FAA’s Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority will work with Virgin Galactic to smoothly and safely provide clear airspace for SpaceShipTwo.

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides says the agreement brings the company a step closer to its goal of launching space tourism flights, although it remains unclear when the flights will begin.

The company has said it hopes to launch its first flight with Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson by year’s end.

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