Virgin Galactic is delaying the launch of its commercial space tourism service to fourth quarter 2022, with the company announcing a reorganization of its development and test flight schedule.
The space tourism company will this month begin work refurbishing and improving its spacecraft and carrier aircraft, a process that is expected to last between eight and 10 months.
Virgin Galactic had planned to begin the “enhancement” period after the next spaceflight, called Unity 23. But the company said a recent test “flagged a possible reduction in the strength margins of certain materials used to modify specific joints” in its vehicles that will require “further physical inspection.”
“The re-sequencing of our enhancement period and the Unity 23 flight underscores our safety-first procedures, provides the most efficient path to commercial service, and is the right approach for our business and our customers,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement.