Virgin Galactic cleared to fly following conclusion of FAA inquiry

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Virgin Galactic is cleared to fly FAA-licensed spaceflights following the conclusion of an investigation of Richard Branson’s flight in July.

The investigation focused on air traffic control clearance and real-time mission notification related to the flight. Virgin Galactic has accepted the following "corrective actions," including:

  • 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.
  • Additional steps into the Company’s flight procedures to ensure real-time mission notifications to FAA Air Traffic Control.

"Our entire approach to spaceflight is guided by a fundamental commitment to safety at every level, including our spaceflight system and our test flight program," Michael Colglazier, Virgin Galactic CEO, said. "We appreciate the FAA’s thorough review of this inquiry. Our test flight program is specifically designed to continually improve our processes and procedures. 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.”

Virgin Galactic is focusing on its next spaceflight test, Unity 23. Due to the FAA investigation, the earliest flight window is mid-October.