Virgin Galactic delays SpaceShipTwo test launch due to COVID restrictions

Virgin Galactic’s subsequent flight to suborbital area will not happen within the coming days in spite of everything.The firm will reschedule the third crewed test flight of its VSS Unity area aircraft, which had been focused to take off from New Mexico’s Spaceport America between Nov. 19 and Nov. 23, on account of the surge of COVID-19 infections sweeping throughout the state, the nation and far of the world.”With the health and safety of our team members in mind, and in accordance with the recent direction from the New Mexico Department of Health, we will be minimizing our New Mexico operations to the greatest degree possible,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier stated in a press release on Monday (Nov. 16).Related: How Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo works (infographic)”While these new restrictions cause us to adjust our flight schedule, we take this pause in stride and will be prepared to resume our preflight procedures and announce a new test flight window as soon as we can,” Colglazier stated.VSS Unity is Virgin Galactic’s newest SpaceShipTwo automobile, a six-passenger, two-pilot craft designed to make temporary jaunts to suborbital area. SpaceShipTwo takes off from a runway beneath the wing of a provider aircraft known as WhiteKnightTwo. At an altitude of about 50,000 ft (15,000 meters), SpaceShipTwo drops free and makes its personal manner to suborbital area.Unity has reached area twice to date, on test flights in December 2018 and February 2019. Both of these missions lifted off from Mojave Air and Space Port in southeastern California, close to the headquarters of The Spaceship Company, Virgin Galactic’s manufacturing subsidiary. The upcoming third spaceflight would be the first one Unity makes from Spaceport America, the hub of the corporate’s business operations. It would be the first human spaceflight ever carried out from New Mexico, Colglazier stated in an replace earlier this month.About 600 folks have purchased a ticket to trip SpaceShipTwo, at a value (most not too long ago) of $250,000 per seat, Virgin Galactic representatives have stated. The firm paused ticket gross sales some time again however plans to reopen them subsequent yr, after Virgin Group founder Richard Branson flies aboard VSS Unity. (Branson has lengthy stated he needs to be on certainly one of SpaceShipTwo’s early spaceflights.)The Spaceship Company is presently constructing two extra SpaceShipTwo automobiles, and certainly one of them is anticipated to roll out of the manufacturing unit in early 2021, Virgin Galactic representatives have stated. And extra may come off the road within the comparatively close to future; the corporate’s hangar at Spaceport America can maintain up to 5 SpaceShipTwos and two WhiteKnightTwos concurrently.Virgin Galactic can be filling out its pilot corps. The firm not too long ago employed Jameel Janjua and Pat Moran, bringing the overall variety of Virgin Galactic pilots to eight.Mike Wall is the writer of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a guide concerning the seek for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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