Former astronaut on Richard Branson’s planned trip to space
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Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo may not fly again until it has government approval, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The FAA made the announcement Thursday, a day after reports emerged that the agency was investigating Virgin Galactic’s high-profile July 11 test flight that had billionaire company founder Richard Branson as one of its passengers, and the same day the company said it was planning another crewed test flight.
A spokesperson for the agency explained that Virgin Galactic is actually conducting the investigation, but under FAA oversight. In the meantime, the company is not allowed to fly the vehicle pending a final report confirming that "the issues related to the mishap do not affect public safety."
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RICHARD BRANSON'S VIRGIN GALACTIC TEST FLIGHT UNDER FAA INVESTIGATION
"The FAA is responsible for protecting the public during commercial space transportation launch and reentry operations," they told FOX Business. "The FAA is overseeing the Virgin Galactic investigation of its July 11 SpaceShipTwo mishap that occurred over Spaceport America, New Mexico. SpaceShipTwo deviated from its Air Traffic Control clearance as it returned to Spaceport America."
The SpaceShipTwo Unity carried Branson and three Virgin Galactic employees more than 53 miles above the Earth to the edge of space before landing at the company’s Spaceport America in New Mexico during the July 11 flight.
A Virgin Galactic spokesperson told FOX Business on Wednesday that the vehicle encountered high altitude winds that changed its trajectory. However, they said pilots and vehicle systems ensured the trajectory stayed within "mission parameters" and added that no one was ever in any danger.