Virgin Galactic soars closer to commercial spaceflight with new spaceship licence

Look to the stars... then take a selfie

The road to the stars has been a slow one for Richard Branson and Virgin, but his plans for Galactic commercial flights are now one step closer to space-based fruition thanks to its brand spanking new spaceship licence.

Said operator license was granted by the US Federal Aviation Administration's Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA-AST), which spent months studying the ship's design, flight trajectory data and safety features. The SpaceShipTwo (VSS Unity), the latest version of Virgin's suborbital rocket-powered manned spaceplane, was unveiled back in February.

"The granting of our operator license is an important milestone for Virgin Galactic, as is our first taxi test for our new spaceship," says Virgin Galactic's Senior VP of Operations Mike Moses. "While we still have much work ahead to fully test this spaceship in flight, I am confident that our world-class team is up to the challenge."

Virgin Galactic has also performed a successful runway taxing test using the VSS Unity and a Land Rover Autobiography. The experiment was conducted to ensure the spaceplane could be safety guided onto a runway without incident, with Land Rover still serving as Virgin Galactic's automotive partner.

The new licence and successful tests should hopefully help Virgin move past the disastrous crash that destroyed the VSS Unity's predecessor, the VSS Enterprise, back in 2014 when it suffered a catastrophic in-flight breakup over the Mojave Desert.

Via: Virgin Galactic

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