Virgin Galactic delays first commercial flight due to defective component

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Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (NYSE:SPCE) has delayed its first commercial space flight because of a possible malfunctioning component in its rocket.


The space tourism company has pushed back the flight to mid-October after a supplier warned of a “potential manufacturing defect” in a component that forms part of the flight actuation system.


The company was forced to abort a mission in December due to technical issues and was dogged by further problems and postponements early this year before completing a test flight in May and another with founder Sir Richard Branson in the summer.


But it turned out that Bransons flight had been afflicted by wobbly moments, which are now being investigated by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA),


Virgin Galactic said it did not think the new defect was connected to these issues and was not sure if the defective component is presently being used in its vehicles, so it was not able to provide an accurate repair and flight timeline.


As a result, it said, pending resolution of the FAA matter, the earliest the company expects to open its flight window for the next flight, known as Unity 23, looks like being mid October, rather than late September as previously planned.


The flight is scheduled to carry three paying astronauts from the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council.


Last month Virgin Galactic said it had started selling tickets to space at prices starting at $450,000 per seat.

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