Billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic partnered with Aurora Flight Sciences, a Boeing company, to design and manufacture its next generation motherships.
The mothership is the air launch carrier aircraft in Virgin Galactic’s space flight system, that carries the spaceship to its release altitude of approximately 50,000 feet.
The two new motherships are expected to support 400 flights per year and the first is expected to enter service in 2025.
“Our next generation motherships are integral to scaling our operations. They will be faster to produce, easier to maintain and will allow us to fly substantially more missions each year. Supported by the scale and strength of Boeing, Aurora is the ideal manufacturing partner for us as we build our fleet to support 400 flights per year at Spaceport America,” said Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer at Virgin Galactic, in a statement.
Aurora plans to manufacture the aircraft at its Columbus, Mississippi and Bridgeport, West Virginia facilities.
Final assembly of the motherships will be completed at the Virgin Galactic facility in Mojave, California.
In 2025, Virgin Galactic’s first Delta-class spaceship is also expected to begin revenue payload flights.
The aerospace and space travel company said its upcoming commercial missions, carrying customers on a 90-minute journey to microgravity and back, are expected to start in the first quarter of 2023.
The first customers to make reservations paid $200,000 to $250,000, Colglazier said in the May call. At the time of the call, he said, Virgin Galactic was taking reservations for $450,000.