Richard Branson just cleared one huge hurdle in his quest to beat Jeff Bezos into sub-orbital space … the FFA just gave Virgin Galactic the green light to fly passengers.
The Virgin Galactic honcho got the all-clear Friday after the Federal Aviation Administration reviewed extensive data gathered from his aerospace company’s May 22 test flight. The review reportedly confirmed the flight performed well.
BTW … it’s the first time the FAA has licensed a spaceline to fly customers. Huge deal.
Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said, “We’re incredibly pleased with the results of our most recent test flight, which achieved our stated flight test objectives. The flight performed flawlessly, and the results demonstrate the safety and elegance of our flight system.”
He added, “Today’s approval by the FAA of our full commercial launch license, in conjunction with the success of our May 22 test flight, give us confidence as we proceed toward our first fully crewed test flight this summer.”
Branson would travel in Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity SpaceShipTwo rocket plane. It should be noted, the billionaire hasn’t spoken publicly about the trip — but Branson reportedly wants to be onboard one of his rocket-fueled flights over the July 4 weekend.
That would edge out Bezos’ Blue Origin flight by a couple of weeks.
The May 22 test flight was Virgin’s third crewed spaceflight … and the first one ever from Spaceport America, New Mexico. The flight achieved a speed of Mach 3 … 3 times the speed of sound at 2,300 MPH.