- Virgin Galactic has been forced to delay its first commercial mission to space
- The ‘Unity 23’ test flight with the Italian Air Force was originally planned for this month
- But Sir Richard Branson’s firm has been informed of a possible manufacturing defect.
- Third-party supplier flagged a potential defect in a flight-control system component
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic – which is currently viewed by officials as a probe into its flight to the edge of space in July – has delayed its first commercial space mission by several weeks after a potential manufacturing defect was discovered.
The British billionaire’s company was hoping to launch a research mission with the Italian Air Force this month, but a third-party supplier flagged a potential flaw in a component of the flight control system.
It’s another blow for Branson, whose space tourism firm is already being investigated by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) after its rocket plane crashed past its pre-agreed airfield during the entrepreneur’s historic flight on July 11. flew out for a period of time.
Virgin Galactic said the potential flaw was not related to the FAA’s ongoing investigation.
Still, it means the ‘Unity 23’ research mission, originally scheduled for September or early October, will no longer take place until the middle of next month, pending resolution of the FAA case at the earliest.
Virgin Galactic has been forced to delay its first commercial space mission for several weeks after a potential manufacturing defect was discovered
Sir Richard Branson’s company said a third-party supplier had flagged a possible defect in a component of the flight control system. Pictured, Branson during his space flight
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic will charge customers £324,000 for a single ticket
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic will charge customers £324,000 ($446,000) to fly into space.
Ticket sales have resumed as the company seeks to capitalize on the success of its July crewed test flight.
That figure is more than £143,000 before sales were suspended following the crash of its first space plane, the VSS Enterprise, in 2014.
About 600 people have tickets for the first round on sale.
“We are pleased to announce the resumption of sales, effective today,” said Chief Executive Michael Colglazier.
‘We are pleased to open the door to an entirely new industry and consumer experience.’
The news comes as a blow to Branson, whose billionaire rival Elon Musk is set to launch the world’s first all-civilian crew into space aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule this week.
The four-member Inspiration 4 team, which does not include Musk, will orbit Earth for three days.
In a statement about the potential manufacturing problem, Virgin Galactic said: ‘At this point, it is not yet known whether defects exist in the company’s vehicles and what, if any, repair work may be required.’
Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said: ‘We have a strong pre-flight preparedness approach that is rooted in our holistic, proactive and safety-first culture.
‘Nothing is more important to us than the integrity of our vehicles. Our test flight procedures and procedures are rigorous and structured to identify and address these types of issues. We look forward to taking to the skies again soon.
It is now conducting an inspection as part of normal safety procedures.
When the spaceflight is approved it will carry three paid crew members from the Italian Air Force and the Rome-based government agency National Research Council.
They will conduct research relevant to current and future spaceflight systems and technologies.
Branson has said he hopes to offer paid flights on a ‘regular basis’ next year, which will come as a relief to 600 ‘future astronaut’ ticket holders who have spent a decade waiting for the opportunity to go to space. Have waited more.
He himself flew to the edge of space on July 11, beating another billionaire – Amazon founder Jeff Bezos – by nine days, although earlier this month it was revealed that the flight was being investigated by authorities. It had deviated from its designated path.
Everything was going according to plan at the time, with motherhood as expected, and the spaceplane was required to receive 50,000 pounds to continue its 40-mile journey into space, before gliding back safely to land on the runway at Spaceport America. was being dropped on Ft.
Branson made his historic voyage to the edge of space on July 11, traveling 50 miles above the New Mexico desert, and ushering in a new era of space tourism.
However, a report suggests that there were warning lights in the cockpit that the spacecraft was moving out of the way, and could have struggled upon its return without action.
Speaking to the New Yorker, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), which oversees commercial air and space flight in the US, confirmed that the spacecraft “deviated from its air traffic control clearance” and took about a minute and 41 seconds. did this for.
Virgin Galactic said the flight’s final trajectory deviated from our initial plan, but the pair “did not fly outside the lateral limits of protected airspace.”
The firm says it is working with the FAA on investigating deviations in the return route for landing on the runway and improving communications.
In a statement on the FAA investigation, Virgin Galactic acknowledged that the ‘flight fell below the height of the airspace’, but confirmed that it would take ‘a short distance and time (1 minute and 41 minutes’) before re-entering the restricted airspace. seconds) was. ‘
Virgin Galactic said that ‘when the vehicle encountered high altitude winds that altered the trajectory, pilots and systems monitored the trajectory to ensure it remained within mission parameters.’
It states that ‘the ship never traveled above any population center or caused danger to the public.’
The company said it is ‘working in partnership with the FAA…