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Virgin Galactic gets green light to fly paying customers to space

2021-06-28 18:20 by
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Virgin Galactic announced Friday that the Federal Aviation Administration granted the company the license it needs to fly passengers on future spaceflights, a key hurdle as the venture completes development testing.

Virgin Galactic's previous licence only permitted them to conduct crewed test flights, and a spokeswoman for the company said the updated version "is further validation of Virgin Galactic's methodical testing programme, which has met the verification and validation criteria".

"Virgin Galactic today announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) updated the Company's existing commercial space transportation operator license to allow the spaceline to fly customers to space," the company said in a statement. "The adjustment to Virgin Galactic's operator's license, which the Company has held since 2016, marks the first time the FAA has licensed a spaceline to fly customers."

There is currently one active SpaceShipTwo vehicle called the VSS Unity, with two more under construction. The plane travels to the border of space, which is why it is classified as a suborbital vehicle, and the plan is to accept paying customers aboard these flights in the future.

The FAA's decision came around a month after Virgin Galactic's successful test flight of the VSS Unity. Two pilots on the VSS Unity climbed to an altitude of 55.5 miles before landing on Earth on May 22, completing the company's third crewed suborbital spaceflight.

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