Virgin Galactic’s rocket-powered house planes cleared to fly following FAA probe

Virgin Galactic's rocket-powered space planes cleared to fly following FAA probe

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Virgin Galactic

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has been cleared to return to house, following a Federal Aviation Administration investigation into an airspace violation that occurred through the extremely publicized Unity 22 mission that carried Branson and 5 different Virgin workers. 

The FAA grounded the corporate’s rocket-powered house planes and opened a “mishap” investigation following the flight, which was broadly hailed as a hit in July
. The company stated on the time that the VSS Unity spacecraft flew out of its permitted airspace because it glided again to New Mexico’s Spaceport America for a touchdown. 

On Wednesday, the FAA reported it had concluded its inquiry, which confirmed the deviation from the unique flight plan.

“The FAA additionally discovered Virgin Galactic failed to speak the deviation to the FAA as required,” reads an announcement from the company. “The FAA required Virgin Galactic to implement modifications on the way it communicates to the FAA throughout flight operations to maintain the general public protected. Virgin Galactic has made the required modifications and may return to flight operations.”

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In a separate statement, Virgin Galactic expanded on the changes, which it says 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.”

“Designating a larger area will ensure that Virgin Galactic has ample protected airspace for a variety of possible flight trajectories during spaceflight missions.”

The investigation forced a delay of the company’s follow-up flight, which is set to include members of the Italian Air Force. The company has yet to set a new target date for that mission, dubbed Unity 23. 

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