Virgin Galactic Delays First Commercial Passenger Flight11th Aug 2022
On 4th August, Virgin Galactic announced that it would be pushing back its first space tourism mission by another three months. The scheduled date is now some time in Spring 2023.
The company cited delays connected to its mothership, VMS Eve, as reasons for the further delay.
Upgrade work on VMS Eve has been pushed back previously. COVID related supply chain issues affected timing.
Speaking about the delay, Michael Colglazier, the CEO of Virgin, said the following:
“While our short-term plans now call for commercial service to launch in the second quarter of 2023, progress on our future fleet continues, and many of the key elements of our roadmap are now in place to scale the business in a meaningful way.”
Sending paying passengers into space
Virgin Galactic will send passengers into space using two vehicles. This includes VMS Eve and VSS Unity.
VMS Eve is the carrier aircraft, which will bring the VSS Unity spaceship to an altitude of approximately 50,000 feet. At this point, Unity will then drop away and launch. The craft will soar in a suborbital trajectory thanks to the use of rocket engines.
So far, VSS Unity has flown into space four times, with the most recent occurring in July 2021. However, none of these episodes were operational tourist flights.
Virgin Galactic makes infrastructure announcements
Despite the delay, Virgin has made other infrastructure announcements over the past few weeks. For example, they are launching a new training facility for astronauts close to Spaceport America, the primary launch site for Virgin.
Furthermore, in June the company inked a deal with Aurora Flight Sciences, the Boeing subsidiary. Aurora Flight Services will create two new motherships to enter service in 2025. These motherships are designed to support a new “Delta-class” fleet for space plans that will be scheduled to fly once every week. Paying customers can expect to fly on the Delta fleet as soon as 2026.