Virgin Galactic cleared for flight when FAA finished the probe

The highest US aviation safety regulator said it allowed Virgin Galactic Holdings to fly again in space, but the company was unable to communicate the mistakes it made during this summer’s high-profile mission.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that it had completed a July flight investigation to bring Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson and five others to the edge of space and return them to a facility in New Mexico. ..

The agency discovered that its spacecraft had deviated from its allotted airspace during its descent to Earth, and that Virgin Galactic did not report the error to the FAA as needed.

Virgin Galactic said aviation regulators have accepted the proposal to change the way space missions operate. According to the company, these changes include designating a wider area as protected airspace to allow for possible orbital diversity during missions, and when the company is in flight. This includes taking steps to ensure communication with FAA’s air traffic control.

“Updates to the airspace and real-time mission notification protocol will strengthen our readiness as we approach the commercial launch of our spaceflight experience,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Korgrazier said in a statement. increase.

A FAA spokesman declined to comment on Virgin Galactic’s planned communication changes. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment.

New Mexico-based Las Cruces shares rose more than 10% in overtime trading.

Virgin Galactic previously stated during its July flight that it had shifted from the planned orbit for the wind for 1 minute and 41 seconds while the spacecraft was returning to the ground. The ship has never flown over densely populated areas, the company said.

During the investigation, the FAA banned Virgin Galactic from flying in space. The agency is working to regulate spacecraft launches and re-entry, improve mission tracking, and activate new systems to minimize the impact of space travel air closures during the summer. I am.

Earlier this month, Virgin Galactic said it plans to open a window in mid-October that could operate its next space mission until the FAA’s investigation is complete. The company also said it chose that time frame because it was working with vendors to analyze potential manufacturing flaws in flight control system components.

The flight, which Virgin Galactic said will be the first commercial research mission, is set to include members of the Italian Air Force.

Write to Micah Maidenberg ([email protected])

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It was published as “FAA Ends Probe of Virgin Galactic Flight” on the print version on September 30, 2021.

Virgin Galactic cleared for flight when FAA finished the probe

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