Virgin Galactic says FAA has cleared it for further flights

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Virgin Galactic said Wednesday that the Federal Aviation Administration has cleared it to resume launches after an investigation into why its spaceship veered off course while descending during a July flight with founder Richard Branson aboard.

The company said it was advised by the FAA that corrective actions proposed by Virgin Galactic have been accepted.

A larger area will be designated as protected airspace to ensure there is room for "a variety of possible flight trajectories during spaceflight missions," a company statement said.

FAA HALTING VIRGIN GALACTIC SPACESHIPTWO FLIGHTS PENDING INVESTIGATION

Virgin Galactic said it will incorporate additional steps in its flight procedures to ensure real-time mission notifications to FAA air traffic control.

Photo credit: Getty images / Virgin Galactic

CEO Michael Colglazier said the company is committed to safety and appreciated the FAA's review.

"The updates to our airspace and real-time mission notification protocols will strengthen our preparations as we move closer to the commercial launch of our spaceflight experience," he said.

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During the July 11 incident, the rocketship carrying Branson and five Virgin Galactic employees deviated outside the air traffic control clearance area during descent to a runway in New Mexico. The FAA imposed a halt on flights pending the investigation.

Virgin Galactic has said high-altitude wind caused the change in flight path and insisted the two pilots responded appropriately. The company said the ship did not travel over population centers or cause a hazard to the public.

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