Virgin Galactic conducted its first test flight of its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle in more than five months Jan. 11 as the company prepares to begin powered test flights of the vehicle.
Virgin Galactic will carry out a dedicated research flight of its SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane for the Italian space agency ASI, with an Italian payload specialist on board, under an agreement announced Dec. 18.
The Virgin Group announced Oct. 26 an agreement with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund for an investment of $1 billion into Virgin’s suborbital and orbital space ventures.
The chief executive of Virgin Galactic said Sept. 7 that the company’s second suborbital spaceplane was “at the edge” of beginning powered test flights, after at least one more glide flight.
Virgin Galactic performed the latest glide flight of its second SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane Aug. 4, calling it a “dry run” for upcoming powered test flights.
Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic are de facto competitors in an undeclared race to be the first to send private passengers into suborbital space, but both billionaire-led ventures are prioritizing safety over urgency.
Virgin Galactic performed another glide flight of SpaceShipTwo June 1 as the company suggested it was nearing a new phase in the test program of the suborbital spaceplane.
About 650 customers are already holding tickets for SpaceShip Two, said Stephen Attenborough, commercial director of Virgin Galactic.
Virgin Galactic said May 1 it successfully tested the system on its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle that permits a safe reentry on the vehicle’s latest unpowered test flight.
Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson said April 28 he remained optimistic that the company’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle will carry him and other customers into space, but declined to give a specific schedule about when those flights might begin.
The chairman of the Senate space subcommittee said at a hearing April 26 that it may be time for the United States to update a key space treaty to reflect growing commercial space activities.
Virgin Galactic announced March 2 that it has picked a former Boeing space executive to lead its smallsat launch project, which is being spun out into a separate venture.
During his campaign, President Trump called for more airplanes, more ships and more soldiers, but said little about bolstering the space capabilities these forces rely upon.
Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane performed its second free flight Dec. 22 as the company prepares to enter a critical year in the vehicle’s long-delayed development.