Virgin Galactic announced that it is working in cooperation with the U.S. aviation authorities to identify and eliminate the causes of unauthorized changes in the flight path of its Unity suborbital spacecraft.
The company emphasizes that the loss of altitude that occurred on July 11 during the first Unity 22 mission did not threaten the crew and passengers, among whom was the founder of Virgin Galactic, British millionaire Richard Branson.
“We take the incident very seriously and are now working to find out the reasons and determine how to avoid a repeat in future missions,” the press release says.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the eve banned flights of the Virgin Galactic suborbital spacecraft – “until the results of the investigation of the incident are approved or until it is proved that the problems associated with the deviation of the route do not pose a threat to public safety.”
Virgin Galactic says that the ship was not over “populated centers or posed a threat to the public” at any stage of the flight, including a short period of leaving the permitted corridor.
The company plans to conduct the next commercial crewed flight in October.
Virgin Galactic successfully launched its Unity spacecraft on July 11 with a crew of four people, headed by the company’s owner Richard Branson. After separation from the carrier aircraft, Unity independently climbed to an altitude of more than 80 kilometers, where the crew could feel weightlessness for a few minutes. After that, the device began to descend and soon landed on the territory of a private spaceport in the US state of New Mexico.