The VSS Unity spacecraft touched down on the runway at Cosmodrome America in New Mexico following the company’s fourth space test on July 11, 2021.
Virgin Galactic is postponing the launch of commercial space tourism services until the fourth quarter of 2022, and on Thursday the company announced a reorganization of its development and test flight schedules.
The space tourism company will begin work on refurbishing and upgrading its spacecraft and launch aircraft this month.
Virgin Galactic planned to begin an eight-month “upgrade” period following its next space flight, called Unity 23. But the company said the recent test “noted a potential reduction in the tensile strength of some materials used to modify specific joints” in its vehicles, which would require “further physical inspection “.
With the start of work on Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity spacecraft and VMS Eve launch vehicle this month, this process will make mid-2022 the earliest time for Unity 23 to fly.
“Changing the sequencing of our improvement period and Unity 23 flight underscores our top priority security measures, provides the most efficient path to commercial service, and is the right approach for our business and our customers,” said Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazer. statement.
Virgin Galactic shares fell 11% after trading at $ 24.06. As of the end of Thursday, stocks were up just 1% in 2021, with little to no change over the year.
Unity 23 will now take place following an improvement process that Virgin Galactic says is “designed to further increase profitability, resulting in improved reliability, durability and lower maintenance requirements.”
A refurbishment period was also expected in September, but the FAA suspended Virgin Galactic for much of the past month to investigate a flight accident involving company founder Sir Richard Branson. The FAA has allowed Virgin Galactic to return to flight following the completion of an investigation.
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