- Associated Press - Thursday, May 29, 2014

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - Virgin Galactic and Spaceport America have signed an agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration that clears the path for space flights from New Mexico.

Virgin Galactic says Thursday the agreement sets the parameters for how the space missions will be integrated into the National Airspace System.

The agreement spells out how the FAA’s Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority will work with Virgin Galactic to smoothly and safely provide clear airspace for SpaceShipTwo.

Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides says the agreement brings the company a step closer to its goal of launching space tourism flights, although it remains unclear when the flights will begin.

The company has said it hopes to launch its first flight with Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson by year’s end.

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