Virgin Galactic’s Move to New Mexico Promises Job Growth

From Tracey Bryan, Las Cruces Sun News

Sir Richard Branson, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Kevin Prieto celebrate Virgin Galactic's move to New Mexico

Photo Credit: Craig Fritz, AP

June 3, 2019 – May 10 was made a historic day for Doña Ana County and the rest of New Mexico when Sir Richard Branson and the team from Virgin Galactic made a major announcement. The Virgin Group subsidiary were moving operations for the first-ever commercial “spaceline” to New Mexico right away, bringing a team of over 100 here to prepare for their first launch.

It was a great moment for the state and for the commitment of the counties and communities who have been part of Spaceport America’s story. But more than anything, it was a great moment for our youth and young people. History is forever changed for them because the gateway to space can also be the gateway to careers they never dreamed possible in New Mexico.

Kevin Prieto and Lexy Snell, two of a handful of New Mexico kids who are now part of Virgin’s workforce, stole the show that day. Yes, the picture of Kevin getting a selfie with Sir Richard, Gov. Lujan-Grisham, and Sen. Tom Udall was the shot seen around the world, but it was what he and Lexy said that reverberated throughout the crowd on hand.

Kevin, New Mexico State University graduate and former student body president, said he’d never imagined he would be able to find the kind of career and opportunity he was looking for in the state he loved so much. As a procurement specialist for the company, Virgin Galactic has made his dream possible.

Lexy, the second woman to graduate from Central New Mexico Community College’s Aviation Maintenance Technician program, is now an assistant crew chief on Virgin Space Ship Unity. She joined Virgin as an intern after graduation, and five years later, is part of the team that built Unity – an actual spaceship.

She shared her personal story with the expressed intention of inspiring other young people like her. Following are a few excerpts from her speech…

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