Video footage captures the takeoff, glide flight and landing of Virgin Galactic spacecraft VSS Unity at Spaceport America on Friday, May 1, 2020. Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES — Commercial spaceliner Virgin Galactic announced Friday the launch of a program to cultivate Black leadership in the aerospace industry through scholarships, professional mentoring and fellowships. 

“The new program is designed to support the next generation of Black leaders, who will power the rapidly-developing aerospace industry and help solve the global challenges in years to come,” the company said in a statement. “As a part of this program, selected students will receive scholarship support, mentoring, summer fellowships, and job opportunities upon graduation. The aspiration is to support Black scholars through the academic pipeline to a successful early career placement opportunity.”

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The announcement coincided with Juneteenth, observed on June 19 as a date commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Virgin Galactic is the anchor tenant of Spaceport America in southern New Mexico, where it aims to launch the first commercial passengers into space this year in spacecraft designed and manufactured in Mojave, California. 

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