May 11, 2019

Virgin Galactic takes one step closer to realizing space tourism

The west entrance of Spaceport America. Photo: Steve Snowden/Getty Images

Virgin Galactic announced on Friday that it will finally move operations from its Mojave facilities to the New Mexico launch site Spaceport America, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: This launch site is currently the world's only commercial spaceport. Virgin plans to use the spaceport to fulfill one of its ultimate visions: carrying tourists to space for tickets that reportedly cost up to $250,000 a piece. Virgin plans to execute the move this summer now that it has completed 2 successful flights through the upper atmosphere — one of which included the first passenger carried to space aboard a commercial spacecraft.

The backdrop: Spaceport America, which cost New Mexico taxpayers $220 million, stood vacant for years as Virgin troubleshot issues with test flights. Virgin hoped to have paying passengers take space tours by 2007, but 3 technicians were killed that year by an explosion while testing a propellant system. In 2014, the company's SpaceShipTwo broke apart during a test flight, killing the co-pilot.

  • The rest of Virgin's vision: space hotels and a network of spaceports allowing supersonic travel anywhere on earth within a few hours.

Buzz: 700 people have already signed up to grab up to $250,000 tickets to be flown 50 miles from the New Mexico spaceport to the edge of space. Still, Virgin has not yet set a deadline for the first commercial flight, per the AP.

Go deeper: Inside the new global race to space

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Peter Navarro defends hydroxychloroquine use in heated CNN interview

White House economic adviser Peter Navarro defended the use of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus during a CNN interview Monday, highlighting "the possibility" that it has therapeutic efficacy.

Why it matters: Navarro did not deny reporting from Axios' Jonathan Swan that he got into a heated exchange in the White House Situation Room over the weekend with infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci about the drug's prospects against the illness.

Special report: Health care workers vs. coronavirus

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images, Bruce Bennett/Getty Images, and Europa Press News/Europa Press via Getty Images

Health care workers are at an especially high risk of catching the coronavirus, because of their prolonged exposure to patients who have it. Making matters worse, the U.S. doesn't have enough of the protective equipment, like masks and gloves, that keeps them safe.

  • And yet these workers, with loved ones of their own, keep showing up at hospitals across the country, knowing that more Americans than they can possibly care for are depending on them.
Go deeperArrow49 mins ago - Health

Backed by the Fed, bond investors get bullish

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Fed's massive injections of liquidity have reopened much of the bond market, and after back-to-back weeks in which more than $100 billion flowed out of bond funds, investors have regained their bearings and now see opportunity.

What's happening: But after the hemorrhaging outflows relented last week, bulls may now be sticking their heads out a bit too far. Junk bond funds took in more than $7 billion for the week ended April 1, according to Refinitiv Lipper, setting a new weekly record.