Virgin Galactic SPCE delays commercial spaceflights to Q4 2022

The VMS Eve carrier takes off from Spaceport America in New Mexico, carrying the VSS Unity spacecraft on July 11, 2021.

Virgo Galaxy

Virgin Galactic has delayed the start of commercial space tourism services to the fourth quarter of 2022, with the company on Thursday announcing a realignment of its development and flight test schedule.

This month, the space tourism company will begin refurbishing and improving its spacecraft and carrier aircraft.

Virgin Galactic planned to begin an eight-month “improvement” period after its next spaceflight, called Unity 23. But the company said that recent testing “indicates potential reductions in strength margins for some of the materials used to modify certain joints” in vehicles that will require “more Physical examination.

With work on Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spacecraft and the VMS Eve carrier aircraft starting this month, the operation makes mid-2022 the earliest the Unit 23 can fly.

“The rearrangement of the boost period and Unity Flight 23 emphasizes our safety first measures, provides the most efficient path to commercial service, and is the right approach to our business and our customers,” said Michael Colgladier, CEO of Virgin Galactic. Permit.

Virgin Galactic shares are down 11% in after-hours trading from their $24.06 close. The stock is up just 1% for 2021 as of Thursday’s close, and is virtually unchanged this year.

Unity 23 will now be implemented after the optimization process, which Virgin Galactic said is “designed to further increase margins allowing for improved reliability and durability and reduced maintenance requirements.”

The renewal period was also expected to begin in September, but the Federal Aviation Administration suspended Virgin Galactic for much of last month to investigate an accident during the flight that carried company founder Sir Richard Branson. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allowed Virgin Galactic to be returned to the flight after the completion of the investigation.

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