The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Thursday barred Virgin Galactic from flying its SpaceShipTwo until the agency approves its final crash investigation report from its July flight or determines that the issues affect public safety. do not.
Responsible for the safety of the public during commercial space transportation launch and re-entry, the FAA said, "spacecraft two deviated from its Air Traffic Control clearance as it returned to Spaceport America in New Mexico".
"Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo may not return the vehicle to flight until the FAA approves the final accident investigation report or issues related to the accident affecting public safety," the agency said.
In response to the FAA's statement, Virgin Galactic said it was "addressing the cause of the problem and determining how to prevent it on future missions."
The company called the July flight deviation known as Unity 22 "a controlled and deliberate flight path that allowed Unity 22 to successfully reach space and land safely at our spaceport in New Mexico. At any time, passengers and The crew was not put in any danger."
It said it is "working closely with the FAA to support a thorough review and timely resolution of this issue."
Earlier, Virgin Galactic said, "The flight fell below the altitude of the airfield for a short distance and time (1 minute and 41 seconds)."
On Wednesday, Virgin Galactic said it was planning another SpaceShipTwo flight from New Mexico and targeting a flight window in late September or early October, pending technical investigations and weather. The flight is to carry three crew members from the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council, it added.
Branson was one of six Virgin Galactic employees. who participated In its July flight, at an altitude of more than 50 miles (80 km) over the New Mexico desert. He had touted the mission as a harbinger of a new era of space tourism and said the company he founded in 2004 was set to begin commercial operations next year.
© Thomson Reuters 2021