Virgin Galactic to Delay Commercial Space Travel Service to Q4 2022

Virgin Galactic mentioned on Thursday it’s delaying its business area journey service to the fourth quarter of 2022 and won’t conduct one other deliberate check flight this yr.

Virgin Galactic mentioned “commercial service is now expected to commence in Q4 2022.” Shares within the firm fell 13 p.c in afterhours buying and selling.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on September 2 had barred Virgin Galactic from flying its SpaceShipTwo pending completion of a report into the flight of the Virgin Galactic rocket airplane that carried British billionaire Richard Branson to the sting of area.

Branson was amongst six Virgin Galactic staff who took half within the July flight, hovering greater than 50 miles (80km) into area.

The FAA on September 29 closed its mishap investigation into the July 11 Virgin Galactic Unity 22 launch, which deviated from assigned airspace on descent, and lifted a grounding order it had imposed earlier.

Virgin Galactic had mentioned in September it was planning one other SpaceShipTwo flight from New Mexico, Unity 23, pending technical checks and climate. The firm mentioned final month the earliest it anticipated “to open its flight window for Unity 23 is mid-October.”

But Virgin Galactic on Thursday mentioned it is going to now start its deliberate enhancement programme first and can conduct the Unity 23 check flight after this work is full and earlier than beginning business service.

The enhancement programme is designed to enhance automobile efficiency and flight-rate functionality.

The firm mentioned on Thursday one current laboratory-based check “flagged a possible reduction in the strength margins of certain materials used to modify specific joints.”

The firm added the “new lab test data has had no impact on the vehicles, our test flight protocols have clearly defined strength margins, and further analysis will assess whether any additional work is required to keep them at or above established levels.”

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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