US temporarily suspends Virgin Galactic space flights

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has temporarily suspended Virgin Galactic’s space flights to investigate why its July test flight deviated from its intended trajectory. .

“The FAA is overseeing an investigation by Virgin Galactic into an incident during a SpaceShipTwo flight on July 11 over Spaceport America, State,” the agency said in a statement dated September 2. New Mexico Virgin Galactic will not be able to continue deploying SpaceShipTwo until the FAA approves a final report of the misconduct or determines that the problems associated with this incident do not affect the safety of the public. copper.”

Billionaire Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, during a space flight aboard Virgin Galactic. Photo: Space

The FAA’s decision to investigate was made after the New Yorker reported that during the aforementioned flight, the cockpit had some problems when launched by booster rocket, which could endanger the passengers on board. travel. According to an article by investigative journalist Nicholas Schmidle, the pilots were signaled with a yellow light and then a red light, indicating that the craft was not flying high enough and the nose was not vertical enough. The pilots attempted to correct the orbital problem, although published data showed that the ship flew outside the specified orbit.

The FAA’s decision is considered a blow to Virgin Galactic, after the company has started selling tickets for space flights, following the success of a test flight with full crew and passengers. The special guest is billionaire Richard Branson – founder of Virgin Group. Virgin Galactic confirms that it will work closely with the FAA to resolve related issues.

“We take this matter seriously and are currently working on the causes of the problem and working to find a remedy so it doesn’t happen again in the future,” the company statement read. , Virgin Galactic also objected to “false descriptions and conclusions in the New Yorker article”. The company said: “When the ship encountered high winds that changed its trajectory, the pilots and orbital monitoring systems worked hard to ensure that the ship remained within the intended parameters. Our pilots have responded appropriately to these changing flight conditions, exactly as they’ve been trained and within the strict rules we’ve established.”

The company also admitted that the ship had “fallen below the allowable altitude” for 1 minute 43 seconds, but also emphasized that “never moved above any population center area or endangered the safety of the people.” People.”

As planned, the first commercial test flight will take place in the third quarter of this year, after Virgin Galactic conducts another test flight this September. The official ticket price offered by Virgin Galactic is $450,000/person. Customer services will include a single seat; plenty of seating for couples, friends or family; and buy the entire flight.

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