WASHINGTON — Virgin Galactic says it does not expect an investigation into an issue on its most recent suborbital launch to delay its next one as it turns its focus to a new generation of vehicles.

In an earnings call Feb. 27, company executives said they still expected to fly the Galactic 07 mission by its VSS Unity suborbital spaceplane in the second quarter of the year despite an incident on the Galactic 06 flight Jan. 26 where an alignment pin fell from the VMS Eve carrier aircraft after deploying Unity. The company said Feb. 5 it had notified the Federal Aviation Administration of the incident.

“We are making really solid progress,” said Mike Moses, president of spaceline operations at Virgin Galactic, on the call. He said the company could now recreate the circumstances that allowed the alignment pin to come loose and is now working to “enhance the robustness” of the retention mechanism for the pin.

“We don’t anticipate any impact on Galactic 07 at all for quarter two, and the investigation has been going really well with the FAA in partnership,” he said.

That flight will carry four customers, which Michael Colglazier, Virgin’s chief executive, described as a “blended manifest” of researchers and private astronauts. The company has not disclosed the customers who will fly on that mission or a more specific launch date.

Galactic 07 may also be the final flight of VSS Unity. The company said in November it planned to halt flights of the spaceplane in the middle of the year to focus its resources on development of the Delta class of suborbital vehicles. That included Galactic 06 and 07 in the first and second quarters and a possible Galactic 08 in the middle of the year. The company did not state in the earnings call if it planned to fly Galactic 08.

Virgin Galactic has been working to maximize the revenue from those final Unity flights. Colglazier said they expected an average per-seat revenue of more than $800,000 for Galactic 07, and had sold individual seats that had opened up recently on its flight manifest for close to $1 million each.

The company is not actively selling seats, but Colglazier said it does sell some “house seats” it holds in reserve to referrals from existing customers. The company is now selling those seats for $600,000, the same as research seats but a third higher than previous list price of $450,000.

“We believe these prices continue to reflect outstanding value,” he said, suggesting that $600,000 would be the new price when ticket sales reopen. “I don’t expect when we open up sales going forward to be going lower than that.”

Executive said on the call that work on the Delta-class vehicle was on schedule. “Our Delta-class spaceships remain on track to begin ground and flight testing next year and commercial service in 2026,” Colglazier said, supported by nearly $1 billion in cash and equivalents on its books.

Those Delta-class vehicles will look almost identical to VSS Unity, Moses said. Differences in internal designs and use of high-temperature composites will allow the Delta-class vehicles to be lighter, thus enabling them to carry six customers rather than Unity’s four. The design, along with extensive ground testing with a structural test article, will also support a flight rate of eight per month versus one for Unity.

“Delta is based on the learnings of Unity, and that is the most relevant fact that drives our confidence” in developing the vehicle on schedule, he said. “We are not flying into new and unknown territory.”

Executives continues to talk up a bright long-term future for the company once the Delta-class vehicles are in service. A fleet of four to five spaceplanes and two mothership aircraft could support 300 to 400 flights a year from a spaceport, generating revenue of more than $1 billion a year. Those flights would serve a total addressable market of about 300,000 people worldwide with the interest and means to pay a flight, the company estimates based on its research.

While Spaceport America in New Mexico will remain its hub for operations, the company is considering long-term options to expand to other sites in the United States or other countries, as well as expanding at Spaceport America itself, a process that is still five years out. “2029 seems to be the right place for a second spaceport,” Colglazier said.

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...