Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc., an aerospace and space travel company, announced Wednesday it has signed a long-term lease for a new final assembly manufacturing facility in Mesa for its next-generation Delta class spaceships.
Located next to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, the facility will be capable of producing up to six spaceships per year and will bring hundreds of skilled aerospace engineering and manufacturing jobs to the area, according to a release.
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport is operated by the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport Authority. PMGAA consists of representation from Apache Junction, Mesa, Queen Creek, Gilbert, Gila River Indian Community and Phoenix.
The Delta class spaceship is Virgin Galactic’s production vehicle that is designed to fly weekly, supporting the company’s target of 400 flights per year from Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Based on the company's current schedule, the first ship is expected to commence payload flights in late 2025, progressing to private astronaut flights in 2026, the release states.
The company is selecting suppliers to build the spaceship’s subassemblies, which will be delivered to the new Mesa facility for final assembly.
Virgin Galactic motherships will ferry completed spaceships to New Mexico for flight test and commercial operation.
“Our spaceship final assembly factory is key to accelerating the production of our Delta fleet, enabling a rapid increase in flight capacity that will drive our revenue growth,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in the release.
The facility is under construction and expected to be operational by late 2023. Final assembly manufacturing processes at the facility will be underpinned by a digital twin architecture which enables seamless integration between the Company and suppliers allowing for real-time collaboration, strong governance, and an increase in production efficiency and reliability, the release states.
Locating in Arizona will allow the company to tap into the region's already heavy aerospace cluster while being situated close to New Mexico, said Swami Iyer, Virgin Galactic’s president of aerospace systems, said in the release.
The Arizona aerospace and defense cluster has $2.5 billion in exports currently along with $5.6 billion in total wages, according to the Arizona Commerce Authority. Some companies included in that group include Boeing Co., which builds helicopters in Mesa, as well as as Northrup Grumman space systems work in Gilbert and Chandler.
Find information about Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc., an aerospace and space travel company, at virgingalactic.com.
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