The space company founded by Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc, has finished an extensive upgrade period for its tourist spacecraft, VSS Unity. The upgrades caused the halt of the spaceplane and its carrier aircraft in 2021, which pushed further the company’s first customer mission to space. The company stated on Tuesday that commercial services are set to begin by Q2 of 2023 in collaboration with an Italian Air Force research crew mission.
Before this, Virgin Galactic needs to execute ground testing of its primary spaceplane, VSS Unity, and carrier aircraft, VMS Eve. It will also be conducting a full-powered flight test with Virgin employees onboard. The enterprise aims to manage the flights of its 800 customers safely, delivering repeated flights with current ships and also while delivering an special experience for private astronauts and researchers.
Virgin Galactic’s Q4 results were very mixed, and it fetched a revenue of $869,000. This would be higher than the $564,000 prediction that analysts expected. But the company lost 55 cents a share, i.e. more than the 50-cents-a-share loss foreseen by Wall Street.
Virgin Galactic began ticket sales for the public last year with a higher price of $450,000 after it suspended flights for upgradation of its hardware. The company is now aiming regular swift trips for customers on its VSS Unity. VSS unity can climb to the edge of space and later conclude a free fall from its carrier aircraft. It will glide to a runway like a regular plane.
Lot of the upgrades were focused on VMS Eve, and the company incorporated the aircraft with a newer launch pylon used to latch on the spaceship to Eve. Work on both crafts was completed last year. On Feb 15, Eve concluded a test flight out of Mojave, California. Later, on Feb. 27, it followed by a flight to Spaceport America in New Mexico.
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Virgin Galactic is preparing to ramp up testing validation by ground testing its vehicle. Successfully concluding glide flights of Unity, and a full-powered test flight along with a crew of company employees onboard is planned. It would be similar to the flight that Branson took. The company is aiming to start commercial service once the powered flight is complete.