FAA Grounds Virgin Galactic Amid Investigation of July Flight

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Thursday has grounded Virgin Galactic amid an investigation of the company’s July spaceflight which went off trajectory during its descent.

“Virgin Galactic may not return the SpaceShipTwo vehicle to flight until the FAA approves the final mishap investigation report or determines the issues related to the mishap do not affect public safety,” said the FAA in a statement to the Guardian.

The New Yorker first reported the incident of the earlier flight on Wednesday saying that the problem with Branson’s flight arose when a yellow light flashed on the console of the vehicle as it was descending, warning that the flight was “too shallow and the nose of the ship was insufficiently vertical.”

Virgin Galactic denied such claims in a statement to the Guardian, terming it a host of “misleading characterizations” of the incident.

Virgin Galactic confirmed that VSS Unity flew off its designated trajectory but said the regulator’s “representatives were present in our control room during the flight and in post-flight debriefs.”

Virgin Galactic has planned to launch its next flight in late September or early October before it was grounded by the FAA.

The FAA is responsible for the protection of the public from commercial space transportation launch and reentry operations. 


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