Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Flights Grounded by US Pending July Spaceflight Mishap Probe

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Thursday banned Virgin Galactic from flying SpaceShipTwo until the agency approves the final flawed investigation report from the July flight or identifies issues that do not affect public safety.

The FAA on Wednesday confirmed it was investigating a deviation in the landing of the Virgin Galactic rocket plane carrying British billionaire Richard Branson to the edge of space on July 11.

The FAA, which is responsible for protecting the public during commercial spaceflight launches and commuting, said “SpaceShipTwo deviated from Air Traffic Control as it returned to Spaceport America” ​​in New Mexico. .

The agency said: “Virgin Galactic may not return the SpaceShipTwo vehicle to flight until the FAA approves the final defect investigation report or determines that issues related to the explosion do not affect safety. whole public.

In response to the FAA’s statement, Virgin Galactic said it was “addressing the causes of the issue and determining how to prevent this from happening on future missions.”

The company added that the deviation in the July flight known as Unity 22 was “a controlled and purposeful flight path that allowed Unity 22 to successfully reach space and land safely at the Cosmodrome.” our crew in New Mexico. At no time were the passengers and crew in any danger.”

It added that it was “working closely with the FAA to assist in the thorough review and prompt resolution of this matter.”

Earlier, Virgin Galactic said “the flight fell below the altitude of the airspace … for a short distance and time (1 minute 41 seconds).”

On Wednesday, Virgin Galactic said it was planning another SpaceShipTwo flight from New Mexico and targeting a late September or early October flight time, pending technical and weather checks. That flight carried three crew members from the National Research Council and the Italian Air Force, it added.

Branson was among six Virgin Galactic employees who joined the flight in July, flying more than 50 miles (80 km) above the New Mexico desert. He touted the mission as a precursor to a new era of space tourism and said the company he founded in 2004 is ready to start commercial operations next year.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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