The aircraft of Virgin Galactic, billionaire Richard Bransons aerospace company, is not allowed to enter the air for the time being. During the last flight, on July 11, the aircraft deviated from the agreed course when it was on its way back after a short, suborbital space flight.
The US aviation authority, the FAA, is investigating that flight. Only when the body is sure that the safety of passengers and others is ensured, the aircraft is allowed to fly again.
Virgin Galactic says it works closely with the FAA and “tries to find out the cause of the incident”. The spaceShipTwo spaceShipTwo flew to an altitude of about 86 kilometers in July, just above the 50 mile boundary that the US aviation authority has used as the beginning of space. At that height, the atmosphere slowly passes into the vacuum of the universe. After a short period of time, the spacecraft slowly falls back.
“Blown Off Course”
During the descent, the aircraft flew slightly lower than it was agreed for almost 2 minutes. Virgin Galactic acknowledges that, but says there was no dangerous situation. According to the company, the aircraft was slightly blown off course by the high altitude wind.
The aircraft was controlled by two pilots. Branson himself and three of his closest employees were the passengers. Virgin Galactic wants to sell tourist flights to space. He is engaged in a fierce competition with two other multibillionaires. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who went to space a week after Branson, and Elon Musk (SpaceX) have also entered space tourism.