Virgin Galactic has obtained the first license to conduct space flights with tourists. After the test flight of the VSS Unity, carried out last May, the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States (FAA) has updated the space transport permit granted in 2016.
The expansion of the license paves the way towards the start of space tourism flights. Virgin Galactic ensures that this milestone validates the company’s methodical testing program, which is accompanied by high verification criteria required by the FAA.
“We are incredibly satisfied with the results of our most recent test flight, which achieved our stated flight test objectives,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in a press release.
Virgin Galactic to launch major test flight this summer
With the latest FAA clearance, Virgin Galactic has a free hand to launch its first test flight with full crew. The mission will take place as early as this summer. It will be one of the preliminary – and necessary – steps before the first space tourism mission in 2022.
Although everything seems well under way, Virgin Galactic has had problems to comply with the planned steps. Late last year he had problems with the SpaceShipTwo rocket motor. Later, in February 2021, it momentarily interrupted its testing program for additional verifications.
Fortunately, Virgin Galactic appears to have successfully overcome these obstacles, and the success of the May 22 manned mission is proof of this. To obtain the flight license update, it has undergone a thorough 29-item validation program.
The company is now once again looking optimistically to the future of space flight. With the new FAA license it will conduct three additional test flights. These will serve to evaluate the control systems and protocols of the ship with passengers on board.
Mind you, Virgin Galactic won’t be alone in the fledgling commercial space flight business. Jeff Bezos plans to participate in a suborbital flight of Blue Origin with his brother on July 20. However, Branson himself could arrive earlier on a VSS Unity flight on July 4.