Virgin Galactic conducted its second test flight of its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle from its New Mexico spaceport June 25 and now says it is ready to resume powered flights of the spacecraft.
NASA is taking the first steps in a process that could lead to astronauts and other agency personnel flying on commercial suborbital vehicles by establishing a program office and seeking input from industry.
A White House official said June 22 that while the administration supports commercial space transportation, companies with ambitions of high-speed point-to-point suborbital spaceflight should focus on near-term goals instead.
Virgin Galactic executives said May 5 that the suborbital spaceflight company has taken measures to resume regular operations during the coronavirus pandemic, but said they didn’t yet know its overall impact on the business.
Virgin Galactic conducted the first test flight of SpaceShipTwo from its New Mexico spaceport May 1 as the company edges closer to finally beginning commercial flights of the suborbital spaceplane.
With SpaceShipTwo and Blue Origin’s New Shepard set to begin commercial service as soon as late this year, the focus has been on those vehicles carrying space tourists. But some believe that those vehicles are also ideal for research missions.
With NASA now allowing researchers to fly with experiments on commercial suborbital spacecraft, the agency is beginning a certification process that would allow its astronauts to also fly on such vehicles.
Virgin Galactic executives suggested Feb. 25 that the beginning of commercial flights of its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle might slip again, even as the company starts planning to resume ticket sales.
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane arrived at the company’s spaceport in New Mexico Feb. 13, ready for a final series of test flights before the company starts commercial operations.
NASA plans for the first time to allow researchers to fly with their payloads on commercial suborbital vehicles, ending years of debate and deliberation.
Virgin Galactic is making progress in the development of its next SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane, although the company is saying little about when its existing SpaceShipTwo will be ready to resume test flights.
Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle made its first flight in more than seven months Dec. 11 as the company inches closer to flying people to the edge of space.
Exos Aerospace said the failed launch of a reusable suborbital sounding rocket last month was caused by a structural failure of the rocket shortly after liftoff.
The chief executive of Blue Origin said Oct. 2 it was increasingly unlikely the company would start flying people on its New Shepard suborbital vehicle by the end of this year as it ensures the vehicle is safe enough.
Virgin Galactic signed a contract Oct. 2 with the Italian Air Force to fly a set of research payloads, and three people, on a future SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceflight.