FAA investigates Branson flight: SpaceShipTwo is banned from launch

Status: 02.09.2021 9:40 p.m.

Deviations in course during the flight of the US billionaire Branson with the “SpaceShipTwo” of his company Virgin Galactic have consequences. The US aviation authority issued a take-off ban on the spacecraft to investigate the breakdown.

The US aviation authority FAA has temporarily banned further take-offs of the Virgin Galactic company “SpaceShipTwo”. It will not be allowed to fly until the FAA has approved a “final breakdown investigation report” on the July 11 flight incident or determined that there was no threat to public safety, the agency said.

The decision is a serious setback for the billionaire Richard Branson, who wants to offer private flights into space with his company Virgin Galactic and was on board for the flight on July 11th. The FAA confirmed that the “SpaceShipTwo” had deviated from the planned course during this test flight. “The investigation by the FAA continues,” it said simply.

Pilots did not abort mission

According to a report by New Yorker magazine, an orange and then a red warning light came on during the flight. Accordingly, the spacecraft’s ascent angle was not steep enough. The pilots did not abort the mission but tried to make a correction. Ultimately, the plane landed safely at Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport America airport in the desert of the US state of New Mexico.

Branson had fulfilled a lifelong dream with the flight – and at the same time had anticipated his rival Jeff Bezos, who flew into space nine days later on board a rocket from his private space company Blue Origin. Virgin Galactic was planning two more flights this year before entering the paying passenger business in early 2022. Virgin Galactic shares temporarily lost seven percent of their value after the FAA decision became known.

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