Virgin Galactic has announced a plan to restart flying tourists in the second quarter of 2023 after a reshuffle in the leadership of the company.
The main change concerns Swami Iye, the President of the company’s Aerospace Systems division, who has been appointed as an adviser to CEO Michael Colglazier.
‘The organizational changes will support the Company’s core near-term objectives of delivering increased flight frequency and executing on rapid fleet development plans,’ the company’s press release explains.
In addition, Virgin Galactic announced the completion the upgrades to VMS Eve, one of the two motherships operated by the company.
The venture has not conducted any launches since July 2021, when Branson himself took a flight on board VSS Unity.
Despite placing the company at the center of the media’s attention for several months, the flight was not followed up by further attempts.
Supply issues, labor shortages and other problems caused a chain of delays, forcing Virgin Galactic to stop flight activity for nearly two years.
One of several prominent space tourism ventures, Virgin Galactic conducts flights on its fleet of rocket-powered planes that are carried by twin-fuselage motherships before the launch.
The planes are designed to take tourists to an altitude between 80-90 kilometers (50-56 miles), which is above the 80-kilometer (50-mile) altitude recognized by the US Armed Forces as the border of space. However, it falls well below the Karman Line, an internationally-recognized boundary of space, which sits at 100 kilometers (62 miles).
In addition, unlike most spaceflights launched by the world’s space agencies like NASA, Virgin Galactic’s planes do not enter orbit and are not capable of staying at their peak altitude for longer than a few minutes.