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Virgin Galactic Signs Historic Lease Agreement 49

RobGoldsmith writes "Governor Bill Richardson today announced that Virgin Galactic has signed a 20-year lease agreement with the State of New Mexico. Virgin Galactic's world headquarters will be established in New Mexico and its operations will be located at New Mexico's Spaceport America, the nation's first purpose-built commercial spaceport. The signing of the lease agreement coincides with the beginning of the test flying program for Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo launch vehicle which got underway this month in Mojave, CA. The WhiteKnightTwo will serve as the mother ship for SpaceShipTwo, the vehicle that will carry commercial astronauts into sub-orbital space from Spaceport America."

Plasma Rocket Successful Full Power Test 169

Matt_dk writes "VASIMR is a new high-power plasma-based space propulsion technology, initially studied by NASA and now being developed privately by Ad Astra. A VASIMR engine could maneuver payloads in space far more efficiently and with much less propellant than today's chemical rockets. Ultimately, VASIMR engines could also greatly shorten robotic and human transit times for missions to Mars and beyond."

Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.