Virgin Galactic again pushes the start of commercial suborbital flights to the second quarter of 2023

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Virgin Galactic says the upgrade on its mothership aircraft VSS Eve is taking longer than expected. Credit: Virgin Galactic

Space tourism company; Virgin Galactic has again postponed the scheduled start of commercial flights on its SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane.

This announcement was made on August 4th during the release of its second-quarter earnings.

The company says the upgrades of its mothership aircraft-VSS Eve are being delayed and it is now expectingtostartcommercialflightsofitssingleSpaceShipTwovehicle,VSSUnity,inthesecondquarterof2023.

The company executives have said that the latest delay was not related to supply chain or staffing problems as it blamed earlier during the previous delay but this time the delay is due to the upgrade work on its mothership VSS Eve, which has taken longer than planned.

“The driver is around the amount of time it is taking us to accomplish the work scope on Eve,” said Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic.

“We did not plan the full amount of time that’s been needed to get this work accomplished.” he also said.

Michael Colgazier further stated that the “most acute” issue was work on the central wing section of the plane, where workers were replacing the pylon to which SpaceShipTwo is attached as there have exist differences between the designs for the plane and what was built.  There are also limited working environments on the plane that restricts how much work can be done and also regular staffing issues, he added.

The company has had to deal with running its two spacecraft. Over the past months, it had shifted people who had been working on VSS to its second spaceplane, VSS Unity.

“We need to get Unity back in the air and we also need to get Eve flying,” Colglazier confirmed.

In June, Virgin Galactic signed a deal with the Boeing subsidiary; Aurora Flight Sciences to build two new motherships that would enter service in 2025 and support a fleet of new “Delta-class” space planes that are scheduled to fly once a week.  The company has said that paying customers may fly on the Delta fleet by 2026.

Colgazier announced that the company will also be changing direction on ticket sales from individuals as it has sold more than 800 seats in its initial limit of 1,000. Colglazier hinted that the company plans to reserve 100 seats to be sold to private and government researchers while the few left would be sold through a partnership with the luxury and adventure travel company- Virtuoso.

The financial result of its second-quarter earnings reported that Virgin Galactic has a net loss of $111 million in Q2 compared with the $94 million in the second quarter of 2021 with cash on hand at $1.1 billion as of June 30.

 

Note to readers: Virgin Galactic is a space tourism company that was founded in 2001 by British Aerospace Billionaire, Sir Richard Branson, and the British Virgin group.

Virgin Galactic has achieved giant strides in the field of spacecraft since its establishment, its Spaceship One is the first privately built craft to achieve supersonic flight.

Virgin Galactic also intends to develop commercial spacecraft that would provide suborbital space flights to tourists and space enthusiasts.

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