Virgin Galactic faces still setbacks for its paid space flights. Reuters reports Virgin a deferred its first commercial research flight, Unit 23, no earlier than mid-October. The mission was originally scheduled for late September or early October, but a supplier has warned of a possible “manufacturing defect” in the flight control actuation system, Virgin said.
It is not certain whether the defect is present in Virgin vehicles or whether repairs are necessary. Virgin said it was only postponing the launch out of “excess of caution”. The mission will see three members of the Italian Air Force studying the effects of the transition from ordinary Earth’s gravity to microgravity on humans and the environment.
This was unrelated to the FAA’s investigation into a deviation from the authorized flight pathVirgin added. When the flight continues is also dependent on the FAA lifting a temporary ban on Virgin flights after the investigation is concluded.
It’s no surprise that Virgin is taking an extremely cautious approach. The company is still grappling with the repercussions of its 2014 accident, and it’s under more pressure than ever now there are paying clients for research and ultimately regular passengers. Delays like this can frustrate Virgin in their race to become a profitable business, but they can be worth it if they build trust and lead to more customers.
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