SpaceShipTwo Unity released by VMS Eve for second glide flight in New Mexico
Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has been released for return to spaceinto an airspace violation that occurred during the highly publicized Unity 22 mission that carried Branson and five other Virgin employees.
The FAA has grounded the company’s rocket-powered spacecraft and launched a post-flight “casualty investigation” which Widely celebrated as a success in July
. The agency said at the time that the VSS Unity spacecraft flew out of its permitted airspace when it was returning to Spaceport America in New Mexico for a landing.
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On Wednesday, the FAA announced it had completed its investigation, which confirmed the departure from the original flight schedule.
“The FAA has also determined that Virgin Galactic failed to notify the FAA of the deviation as required,” the agency said in a statement. “The FAA has requested Virgin Galactic make changes to communications with the FAA during flight operations to ensure public safety. Virgin Galactic has made the necessary changes and is ready to resume operations.”
Look at that:
I watched Branson’s space journey from the tarmac
In a separate statement, Virgin Galactic expanded the changes to include additional steps “to ensure real-time mission notifications to FAA air traffic control” and “updated calculations to expand the protected airspace for future flights”.
“The designation of a larger area will ensure that Virgin Galactic has enough protected airspace for a variety of possible trajectories during space missions.”
The investigation forced a postponement of the next flight of the company, in which members of the Italian Air Force are to take part. The company has not yet set a new target date for this mission called Unity 23.