Press Releases

Sep 19 2011

TSC opens assembly facility at Mojave Air and Space Port to build Virgin Galactic spaceships

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MOJAVE, Calif. ― The Spaceship Company (TSC), the aerospace production joint venture of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites, achieved a significant milestone in making commercial space travel a reality with today’s opening of its Final Assembly, Integration and Test Hangar, or FAITH, at Mojave Air and Space Port. The $8 million, modern, energy-efficient hangar supports the final stages of production for prime customer Virgin Galactic’s WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo, and will add new jobs to the commercial space industry at spaceports in Mojave and New Mexico.

Commenting on the grand opening, Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson said, “Today marks another important step along the road to opening space for everyone. We’re extremely proud of the new FAITH building, which is the world’s first facility dedicated to producing private, commercial manned space vehicles. From this hangar, the talented team at The Spaceship Company will be at the forefront of making space access safe, reliable and affordable.”

Located on taxiway-B, FAITH is a 68,000-square-foot, LEED-certified facility that will be used primarily for the final assembly, integration and testing of TSC vehicles before they are delivered to their customers. FAITH will also be used to support major return-to-base vehicle maintenance, and serve as TSC’s operating headquarters.

“We take great pride in the opening of FAITH as an accomplishment for our company, our current and future customers and our industry,” said The Spaceship Company Vice President, Operations Enrico Palermo. “Within this new facility, we will produce the highest quality commercial spaceflight systems.”

FAITH completes the infrastructure needed to manufacture a fleet of TSC’s two core products: the SpaceShipTwo (SS2) sub-orbital spaceship and the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft. The facility is specifically sized to support fabrication of SS2 and WK2 with room to produce at least two of each ship at the same time.

“Not only are we welcoming a new neighbor at the Mojave Air and Space Port today, we’re ushering in another phase in the development of commercial space travel,” said President of Scaled Composites Doug Shane. “It’s exciting to see the vision becoming a reality.”

FAITH was completed within 10 months, as scheduled, and on budget by Bakersfield-based Wallace & Smith General Contractors. It is one of two facilities that TSC will use to produce commercial spacecraft. The other is a 48,000-square-foot existing building at the Mojave Air and Space Port that TSC recently upgraded to serve as the company’s fabrication and vehicle sub-assembly facility. TSC has secured options to expand the size of the FAITH facility and build an adjacent flight test hangar, as the customer base grows.

The opening of FAITH also means a boost to our local economies with impact in California and New Mexico. TSC currently employs over 80 people and is looking to double its workforce within the next year, with numerous high-tech and engineering positions available in the next 90 days.

“Despite the current state of the U.S. economy and rising unemployment, this is a strong time of growth for The Spaceship Company,” Palermo said. “We are creating excellent, high-skilled job opportunities for individuals with aerospace, engineering and hands-on space program experience. We want employees who are passionate about developing new and innovative ways of accessing space.” 

About The Spaceship Company
Headquartered at Mojave Air and Space Port, The Spaceship Company is the aerospace production company, founded by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites, which will be building the world’s first fleet of commercial spaceships (SpaceShipTwos) and carrier aircraft (WhiteKnightTwos) intended to make regular, commercial, manned space travel a reality.

About Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic, owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS, is on track to be the world’s first commercial spaceline. The new spaceship (SpaceshipTwo, VSS Enterprise) and carrier aircraft (WhiteKnightTwo, VMS Eve) have both been developed for Virgin Galactic by Mojave-based Scaled Composites. Founded by Burt Rutan, Scaled developed SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 claimed the $10m Ansari X Prize as the world’s first privately developed manned spacecraft. Virgin Galactic’s new vehicles share much of the same basic design, but are being built to carry six customers on sub-orbital space flights, allowing an out-of-the-seat, zero-gravity experience and offering astounding views of the planet from the black sky of space. The VSS Enterprise and VMS Eve test flight program is well under way, leading to Virgin Galactic commercial operations, which will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

About Scaled Composites
Founded in 1982, Scaled Composites specializes in the design, fabrication and flight testing of prototype aircraft and spacecraft from composite materials. Scaled is a project-oriented company that offers services within a concept-to-completion environment. Our services include conceptual design, aerodynamic and structural analysis and design, tooling, fabrication, structural testing, flight testing and simulation.

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MEDIA NOTE: Electronic press kit complete with photos and footage of FAITH opening available.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Jeff Carr
Griffin Communications Group
(832) 864-7224
(281) 281-5427cell
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Sean Wilson
Griffin Communications Group
(281) 335-0200
(832) 453-9464 cell
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