Virgin Galactic expands Mojave base with amended lease

Aerospace firm founded by billionaire Richard Branson adds 104K sf even as it opens manufacturing plant in Arizona

Virgin Galactic's Michael Colglazier with 16555 Spaceship Landing Way
Virgin Galactic's Michael Colglazier with 16555 Spaceship Landing Way (Glassdoor, Getty)

Virgin Galactic is expanding operations at its headquarters in Mojave after announcing a new manufacturing facility in Arizona.

The aerospace firm, based in the Kern County town 100 miles north of Los Angeles, has leased an extra 104,400 square feet at the Mojave Air and Space Port, the Antelope Valley Press reported.

Virgin Galactic added the land to its 55-year lease, signed in 2010, for its Faith manufacturing and assembly hangar, as well as rocket test stands, offices and other facilities.

Its Space­Ship­Two spacecraft were built in Mojave — and are there for major maintenance and modifications — even as flight operations shifted to Spaceport America in New Mexico, according to the newspaper.

In July, the 18-year-old firm founded by billionaire Richard Branson announced it would open a manufacturing facility in Mesa, Ariz., to produce the next-generation Delta class spaceships. It’s expected to be operational late next year.

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These spacecraft, expected to begin revenue-generating flights in late 2025, are intended to form the backbone of the company’s commercial operations, capable of weekly flights.

This month, the Mojave Air and Space Port approved a new lease for Virgin Galactic, consolidating three separate leases that were on month-to-month terms with additional land. The new lease, for two buildings and a fenced storage area, is for five years with an additional five-year option.

At the same time, Kern County approved a 400-acre container hub in the unincorporated city north of Lancaster to relieve congestion at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. Houston developer Pioneer Partners plans to build the Mojave Inland Port.

In December, Virgin Galactic leased a 61,000-square-foot R&D facility at a former Marine Corp Air Station in Tustin, in Orange County.

Dana Bartholomew

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