10-23-2016  5:09 am      •     
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- NASA has booked a charter suborbital flight from Virgin Galactic's spaceport operations in southern New Mexico.

Virgin Galactic announced Thursday that the agreement calls for NASA to charter a full flight from the company, and it includes options for two additional flights. If all options are exercised, the contract is worth $4.5 million.

Virgin Galactic says each mission allows for up to 1,300 pounds of scientific experiments.

Earlier this week, Virgin Galactic announced it hired former NASA executive Michael Moses as vice president of operations.

Virgin Galactic is owned by Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and Aabar Investments PJS. It's on track to be the world's first commercial spaceline and hopes to launch its first flight within the next year from Spaceport America, about 50 miles north of Las Cruces.

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