FAA bows out of way in time for next Virgin Galactic spaceflight

Virgin Galactic was in some hot water after deviating from the original flight plan and flying outside of the approved airspace during Richard Branson’s spaceflight in July. The FAA has finished its investigation into the mishap by Virgin Galactic.

In a statement to the media, the FAA stated that the mishap investigation into Virgin Galactic’s Unity22 mission has ended. The FAA had two primary issues with Virgin’s conduct. The first was the pilots knowingly flew outside the planned airspace during descent. The second was that Virgin Galactic did not inform the administration about the violation.

The investigation found that Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo vehicle deviated from its assigned airspace on its descent from space. The FAA also found that Virgin Galactic failed to communicate the deviation to the FAA as required. Virgin Galactic was not allowed to conduct flight operations as the investigation was ongoing.

The FAA required Virgin Galactic to implement changes on how it communicates to the FAA during flight operations to keep the public safe. Virgin Galactic has made the required changes and can return to flight operations.

Statement from the FAA

Now that the mishap investigation is over and Virgin Galactic has made the required changes to its procedures, the company can go forward with the Unity23 mission that will carry 6 crewmembers to the edge of space for scientific research.

Virgin Galactic is planning to launch the Unity23 mission in mid-October. We should receive an update if this timeline will stick.

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