Spaceship Co. opens new facility in Mojave

More than 80 employees of The SpaceShip Company gather at the new hangar facility at the Mojave Air and Space Port Monday. In the foreground is the mated pair, WhiteKnnight Two and SpaceShip Two.

MOJAVE – Numerous engineering positions will soon become available in Mojave, say The Spaceship Company, which opened a new assembly facility Monday at Mojave Air and Space Port to build Virgin Galactic spaceships.

“Despite the current state of the U.S. economy and rising unemployment, this is a strong time of growth for The Spaceship Company,” Vice President of Operations Enrico Palermo said in a statement. “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.”

The Spaceship Company (TSC), the aerospace production joint venture of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites, opened its Final Assembly, Integration and Test Hangar (FAITH), at Mojave Air and Space Port Monday. 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.

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.

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.”

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 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.

FAITH was completed within 10 months 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 company expects to begin production at the end of the month.