Virgin Galactic faces even more setbacks in its paid space travel. Reuters reports that Virgin has postponed its first commercial research flight, Unity 23, to mid-October. The mission was originally scheduled for late September or early October, but a supplier warned of a possible “manufacturing defect” in the flight control actuation system, Virgin said.
It is not certain whether the defect is present on Virgin vehicles or whether repairs are required. Virgin said it had just postponed the launch out of “the power of caution”. During the mission, three members of the Italian Air Force will study the effects of the transition from normal earth gravity to microgravity on humans and the environment.
This has nothing to do with the FAA’s investigation of a deviation from the cleared flight path, Virgin added. When the flight resumes also depends on the FAA lifting a temporary ban on Virgin flights once the investigation is complete.
Unsurprisingly, Virgin is taking a particularly cautious approach. The company is still grappling with the aftermath of the 2014 crash, and it’s under more pressure than ever as there are paying customers for research and, eventually, regular passengers. Delays like these can frustrate Virgin as it travels to a profitable business, but it can be worth it as it builds trust and leads to more customers.
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