Virgin Galactic is further delaying its next SpaceShipTwo suborbital flight in order to check a potential issue the company says is unrelated to an ongoing FAA investigation.
The Federal Aviation Administration will not allow Virgin Galactic to resume flights of its SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane until it completes an investigation into a problem on the vehicle’s previous flight in July.
The era of commercial suborbital human spaceflight may finally be here, but whether it lasts isn’t certain, and neither is its importance.
Virgin Galactic announced Aug. 5 it is restarting ticket sales at significantly higher prices but won’t begin flying its existing suborbital space tourism customers until the second half of next year.
The FAA has revised its criteria for awarding astronaut wings to those flying on commercial spacecraft, making the requirements stricter while including a significant loophole.
Virgin Galactic and its founder, Richard Branson, hailed a successful test flight by the company’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane that carried him and five others to suborbital space, but offered few new details about the company’s future plans.
The FAA has granted permission to Virgin Galactic to fly customers, and not just employees, on its SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle, a move that could allow the company’s founder to fly to the edge of space soon.
A seat on the first crewed flight of Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital vehicle sold for $28 million at an auction June 12.
Virgin Galactic has signed an agreement to fly a private researcher on a future suborbital flight, part of efforts diversify its business beyond space tourism.
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo made its first flight to space in more than two years May 22, completing the first in a series of four suborbital flights planned by the company over the next several months.
Virgin Galactic will attempt its next SpaceShipTwo suborbital test flight as soon as May 22 after resolving concerns about the maintenance of its carrier aircraft.
Virgin Galactic said May 10 that while it believes it corrected a problem with its SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane that aborted a test flight five months ago, the resumption of those test flights could be further delayed by a problem with the plane that carries SpaceShipTwo aloft.