On the heels of reports that Virgin Galactic’s space ship carrying billionaire Richard Branson and others deviated from its approved flight path on a July trip, the US FAA opened a probe and grounded all further flights until the investigation is complete.
“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 said in an emailed statement.
The New Yorker first reported the probe, claiming that the flight encountered high winds and flew outside its designated airspace for 1 minute, 41 seconds.
Virgin responded to The New Yorker by saying the report was "misleading" and that the flight was “safe and successful," adding that the ship didn’t “travel above any population centers or cause a hazard to the public.”
“As we move towards commercial service, we are confident we have the right safety culture, policies and processes in place to build and operate a safe and successful business over the long term,” the company said in an emailed statement Wednesday.
SPCE shares are tumbling on the news...
Virgin Galactic was planning its next suborbital spaceflight late this month or in early October.