The space tourism company Virgin Galactic will delay its commercial space service launch to the fourth quarter of 2022.
The commercial test flight, called Unity 23, was originally planned to take off in October 2021. However, Virgin Galactic announced the start of its “vehicle enhancement and modification period” ahead of schedule.
The company’s vehicle enhancement will take eight to 10 months, Virgin (VAH) told CNBC on October 14, 2021. Thus, the earliest Unity 23 is able to fly will be the second half of 2022.
The enhancement program is designed to improve the performance and flight-rate capability for VMS Eve and VSS Unity.
In recent laboratory-based tests, the company “flagged a possible reduction in the strength margins of certain materials used to modify specific joints” of its spacecraft, and “this requires further physical inspection”, Virgin (VAH) outlined in a statement.
Virgin Galactic added that schedule changes were not related to a previous inquiry into a potential defect in a supplier component made by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in September 2021.