The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has firmly told Virgin Galactic that its SpaceShipTwo Boeing ‘Cosmic Girl’ and sub-orbital rocket flights are grounded. The FAA is investigating why the SpaceShipTwo rocket departed from its planned – and authorised – flight path.
“Virgin Galactic may not return the SpaceShipTwo vehicle to flight until the FAA approves the final mishap investigation report or determines the issues related to the mishap do not affect public safety,” the FAA stated.
Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson was on the July 11th flight. Virgin Galactic in its statement said the rocket was affected by high winds at the very high attitudes achieved and that any departure from the official flight path lasted just 101 seconds.
The FAA says that the flight might not have been able to safely land.
Ahead of the FAA ruling, Virgin had planned a flight with three Italian researchers and one Virgin staffer in the passenger cabin in either late September or early October.