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Two new Virgin Galactic pilots coming to New Mexico


Virgin Galactic has two new pilots on staff, bringing the total to eight.

Jameel Janjua and Patrick Moran will be based at Spaceport America and are starting on extensive training programs before flying SpaceShipTwo. 

While Janjua and Moran will initially operate in a test-pilot capacity, they -- along with their six colleagues -- will ultimately become the world’s first commercial spaceship pilots, flying paid customers into space and back.

Each of them has flown in both military and commercial roles, involving training, operations and test flights, as well as flying passengers and managing crew.

Janjua has completed more than 4,000 flying hours in more than 45 different vehicles throughout his career, which spans more than 20 years in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He completed exchange tours for the Royal Air Force and the U.S Air Force and is on the board of directors for the Society of Experimental Test Pilots {SETP}.

"Helping to democratize space travel is a unique honor,” Janjua said. “With society on the cusp of opening space to all humankind, I cannot think of a more privileged role than to be a small part of the amazing team guiding people to their dreams and beyond.”

Moran served as a pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps for 20 years, including roles as a test pilot, test pilot school instructor and the lead government test pilot for U.S. Navy and Marine Corps versions of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. He then entered business aviation as a broker, consultant and charter pilot. He joins Virgin Galactic with more than 3,000 flight hours in 34 different aircraft.

“I’m excited to join this fantastic team of talented pioneers leading the charge for commercial space travel and now in the final stages of its flight test program,” Moran said. “As a flight instructor, I loved to take people flying in the F/A-18 for the first time, to see their huge smiles as they climbed out of the cockpit. I can’t wait to share the experience of going to space with our future astronauts and to see their reactions as they step out of the spaceship and describe their views of Earth from space.”

Both pilots will also train to fly the carrier aircraft VMS Eve. VMS Eve provides a way for the pilots to fly simulated parts of the SpaceShipTwo flight trajectory, gaining valuable hands-on training.  Other assignments for the pilots will include flying other company support aircraft, working mission control, flight planning and support various detailed engineering and project roles across the company.