FAA Approves Virgin Galactic for Full Commercial Launch License After May Test Flight Success

Virgin Galactic announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) updated the Company’s existing commercial space transportation operator license to allow the spaceline to fly customers to space.

The Company also announced that it has completed an extensive review of data gathered from its May 22 test flight and confirmed that the flight performed well against all flight objectives.

The adjustment to Virgin Galactic’s operator’s license, which the Company has held since 2016, marks the first time the FAA has licensed a spaceline to fly customers. It is further validation of the Company’s methodical testing program, which has met the verification and validation criteria required by the FAA.

“We’re incredibly pleased with the results of our most recent test flight, which achieved our stated flight test objectives,” Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said. “The flight performed flawlessly, and the results demonstrate the safety and elegance of our flight system. Today’s approval by the FAA of our full commercial launch license, in conjunction with the success of our May 22 test flight, give us confidence as we proceed toward our first fully crewed test flight this summer.”

Virgin Galactic Completes First-Ever Spaceflight from New Mexico

The May 22 test flight of VMS Eve and VSS Unity was the Company’s third crewed spaceflight and the first-ever spaceflight from Spaceport America, New Mexico. The flight achieved a speed of Mach 3 and reached space at an altitude of 55.5 miles. After an extensive review of the data collected during the flight, the Company confirmed that:

  • The rocket-powered test of the spaceship’s upgraded horizontal stabilizers and flight controls demonstrated strong performance, in line with predictions. These enhanced systems, which allow for finer pilot control, will also be deployed in future spaceships in the Company’s fleet.
  • The cabin environment data was in line with predictions.
  • The flight successfully carried three revenue-generating research experiments that tested and demonstrated technologies in microgravity as part of NASA’s Flight Opportunities Program. The pilots flew VSS Unity on a specific trajectory designed to meet the objectives of these research experiments.

With the data analysis from the May flight now complete, Virgin Galactic will continue preparing for the remaining three test flights.

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