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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

Go deeper

Breaking Biden's diplomatic logjam

Expand chart
Data: Center for Presidential Transition via Congress.gov; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The logjam for reviewing and confirming President Biden's ambassadorial picks is finally starting to break.

Why it matters: Biden is far behind his predecessors in the rate at which his ambassadorial picks have been confirmed. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a series of high-profile hearings and votes this week to finally begin chipping away at the backlog.

10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats brace for staredown over paid family medical leave

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senior House Democrats are braced for battle with the Senate over whether paid family medical leave — a key priority for progressives — will be included in President Biden’s final budget reconciliation bill, lawmakers and aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has indicated he wants to cut the program to reduce the bill's price tag. “Paid family and medical leave must be in the final package,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told Axios on Monday.

42 mins ago - World

Poland showdown is EU's Jan. 6 moment, top official says

Didier Reynders. Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

Poland and Hungary have forced a moment of reflection on the European Union — similar to the one in the U.S. after the Jan. 6 insurrection, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told Axios.

What he's saying: "During many years, we have had in our minds that it was granted that if you are a member of the EU, of course you apply the rule of law; you have full respect for democracy, fundamental rights and so on — maybe with some concerns but with a real intention to adapt your legislation to be in full compliance [with EU law]," Reynders said.