Virgin Galactic delays commercial SpaceShipTwo spaceflights until 2021

Virgin Galactic passengers should wait until not less than 2021 for the primary flight alternatives.Before passengers climb aboard the suborbital house airplane SpaceShipTwo, the house tourism agency will ship not less than two powered check spaceflights aloft from New Mexico’s Spaceport America, the place the corporate moved earlier this 12 months. Virgin carried out two glide checks on the spaceport this spring, after the novel coronavirus pandemic erupted.In its quarterly outcomes name held on Monday (Aug. 3), the house tourism agency said that the pandemic “slowed the company’s pace” for the primary operational spaceflight as a consequence of new well being and security procedures, in keeping with tips from native and state well being officers in addition to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Related: Virgin Galactic unveils smooth inside of SpaceShipTwo spaceliner (images, video)The plan for now, Virgin stated, is for the primary powered spaceflight to depart Spaceport America this fall. That mission will solely carry two check pilots, no passengers. If that outing goes nicely, Virgin will provoke a second spaceflight from Spaceport America, carrying two check pilots and 4 mission specialists to judge the efficiency of the client cabin.Virgin added that security “remains the central focus” and the flight schedule could change if one thing unanticipated occurs. That stated, founder Richard Branson is anticipated to take his first spaceflight within the first quarter of 2021, marking the tender launch of operational flights for Virgin.”Our preparations for commercial service are well underway under the leadership of our new CEO, Michael Colglazier,” George Whitesides, Virgin’s chief house officer and former CEO, stated in the identical quarterly outcomes assertion.”Going forward, I am excited to focus my efforts and expertise on important future business areas, including high speed travel,” Whitesides stated. “We believe that these new technologies represent the future of aviation, and we look forward to working with respected parties like NASA, Boeing and Rolls Royce to explore how we can revolutionize the way we travel.”The first commercial flights for Virgin Galactic have been kicked down the highway repeatedly for the reason that firm was based, in 2004. More not too long ago, Virgin anticipated to ship paying passengers into house in mid-2020; the announcement was made a 12 months in the past after Virgin merged with Social Capital Hedosophia, a publicly traded holding firm. Virgin stated this February, nevertheless, that it anticipated pushing the primary operational flights again, in keeping with SpaceNews.Also in February, Virgin introduced it deliberate to renew promoting tickets shortly; the corporate entered a ticket sale hiatus in December 2018 after VSS Unity, the most recent model of SpaceShipTwo, reached house in a check flight. In February, Virgin launched a “One Small Step” qualification program by means of which would-be passengers might pay a refundable $1,000 deposit to be known as first when reservations resume. In a convention name on Monday with traders, Whitesides stated the corporate quickly suspended advertising the “One Small Step” program this 12 months (advertising has since resumed), and that greater than 700 folks have now signed up for a spaceflight, SpaceNews stated in one other report. The convention name occurred on the identical day that Virgin introduced it has partnered with Rolls Royce to develop a Mach Three supersonic passenger jet.In May 2020, Virgin introduced it had entered an Space Act Agreement with NASA as a part of its plan to supply orbital flights. Virgin introduced in Monday’s convention name that 12 suborbital prospects agreed to pay a “significant refundable deposit” for considered one of these orbital flights, SpaceNews added.Virgin reported no income within the second quarter of 2020, together with a web lack of $63 million. The web loss was just like the $60 million web loss reported within the first quarter of 2020.Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

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