Science

Virgin Galactic reschedules first commercial passenger flight to spring 2023

Virgin Galactic is postponing its first space travel mission for another three months.

Suborbital space tourism provider Virgin Galactic has been announced. (will open in a new tab) On Thursday (August 4), the company will once again delay the start of commercial service until the second quarter of 2023 due to delays in updating the company’s parent ship, the VSS Eve.

Virgin Galactic sends paying passengers into space in two vehicles. It uses the VMS Eve carrier aircraft, which takes the VSS Unity spacecraft to an altitude of about 50,000 feet (15,000 meters). At this point, Unity falls and takes off into suborbital space with the help of rocket engines.

Work on updating Eve was previously delayed due to supply chain issues related to the pandemic. However, Virgin has made other infrastructure announcements in recent weeks. An example is the new astronaut training center near Spaceport America, Virgin’s main launch site.

Pictured: Virgin Galactic’s first fully manned space flight with Richard Branson.

In June, Virgin also signed an agreement with Aurora Flight Sciences, a subsidiary of Boeing, to build two new motherships to enter service in 2025 to support a fleet of new Delta-class spaceplanes that will fly once a week. Paying customers can fly Delta aircraft as early as 2026.

“While our short-term plans now include a commercial service launch in the second quarter of 2023, work continues on our future fleet and many of the key elements of our roadmap are in place to meaningfully scale the business.” This is stated in a statement by Virgin CEO Michael Colglaser. (will open in a new tab) announces the company’s financial results for the second quarter of fiscal year 2022.

Virgin reported a net loss of $111 million in the second quarter, compared to $94 million in the second quarter of 2021, with cash on hand of $1.1 billion as of June 30.

Other announcements this quarter include Delta’s manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona to build up to six spacecraft per year starting in late 2023, and a partnership with luxury travel company Virtuoso to offer multiple bookings among Virgin’s first 1,000 seats. (Even before the deal, about 800 people were on the waiting list, Virgin said.) A seat on VSS Unity is currently worth $450,000.

Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic’s biggest competitor in the suborbital space market, has flown into space with passengers six times. The last flight coincidentally happened on the same day as Virgin’s results, August 8th. 4, sending six more people into space aboard the NS-22 mission.

To date, VSS Unity has flown into space four times, most recently in July 2021. But none of these missions were operational tourist flights.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or Facebook.

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