Spaceship factory opens in California

Sept. 20, 2011 at 9:28 PM
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MOJAVE, Calif., Sept. 20 (UPI) -- A civilian space company has completed the first commercial spacecraft factory at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, company officials said.

Spaceship Co., a joint venture of Scaled Composites and British billionaire Richard Branson's space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, says it plans to begin building spacecraft in its 68,000-square-foot facility at the end of this month, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

"This is a big day for Galactic," George Whitesides, chief executive of Virgin Galactic, said. "We're moving closer and closer to bringing paying passengers into space."

As many as 200 people are expected to be employed assembling spacecraft, and the company has begun advertising for engineers and technicians.

"We're building the first-ever spaceline," Whitesides said. "We want to hire the best of the best."

Spaceship Co. said it would initially construct three White Knight aircraft to carry its SpaceShipTwo rocket planes aloft for suborbital launches.

Five SpaceShipTwo craft -- designed to climb to the edge of space at an altitude of about 60 miles -- will be built, the company said.

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