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ENMU-Roswell graduate enjoys ‘dream job’ at Virgin Galactic

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ENMU-Roswell Aviation Maintenance Technology graduate Victor Lopez took his credentials and boosted his career to new heights on Earth and beyond.

After completing the AMT program in the spring of 2019, he began working with SkyWest Airlines in Tucson, Arizona, and also applied for a position with Virgin Galactic. In January of 2020, he was hired at Virgin and now works as a “space wrench,” his official title, and it’s a job he feels “super lucky” to have.

Lopez, 26, said after researching various Airframe and Powerplant (A and P) programs, he chose ENMU-Roswell because of its fast-track completion time frame, which was then 14.5 months. He already had a background in automotive mechanics after completing a tech program in Arizona, but knew he wanted to “step it up a bit” and pursue a career in aviation.

Lopez said the training he received and the dedication of the instructors at ENMU-Roswell really prepared him for his career. “When you go to school, you only get out of it what you put into it. I wouldn’t go anywhere else if I had to redo it honestly. I wouldn’t do it any other way,” he said.

Unlike other A and P positions which involve more repetitive troubleshooting on aircraft, Lopez said his A and P mechanic duties at Virgin are unique and every day is different.

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He lives in Deming, his hometown, and commutes one and a half hours each day to work the night shift at Spaceport America, Virgin Galactic’s human spaceflight headquarters and center of flight operations.

As the floor lead on his shift, Lopez and his crew prepare the spaceship for flight, loading fuel, and moving it to the runway. He was involved in the first power launch out of New Mexico, but the successful flight to suborbital space of SpaceShip Two VSS Unity on July 11 was surreal for him and a true “pinch me moment.” He said the last 24 hours leading up to the launch were critical.

“You spend a lot of time and a lot of effort just to get it launched. It’s pretty sweet.” He said everyone he works with is wonderful and feels he really has opportunities for advancement. He sees a great future and plans to stay with Virgin.

“We are still at the beginning stages, so we’re not like an airline yet,” he said. “There is still a lot of structure that needs to happen with everyone’s input.”

Lopez said the Virgin team was happy to complete their first fully crewed spaceflight. They are supportive of the accomplishments of Blue Origin as well, because, he said, each company has different experiences to offer and both are opening up new opportunities in the space tourism industry. “Their rocket is pretty cool, too.”

If given the opportunity, Lopez would absolutely take the trip to space, but for now looks forward to the new challenges to come at Virgin and his wedding here on planet Earth in October.

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