Virgin Galactic Ltd.’s plans to launch commercial spaceflights will be put back by about 12 months after a fatal crash last year.
“There is going to be about a one-year delay,” billionaire owner Richard Branson said in a Bloomberg Television interview. The team for the space-tourism venture is working “day and night” on a replacement craft, he said. “They’re confident that they’re back on track.”
The crash during a test flight in California’s Mojave Desert in October killed the co-pilot and injured the pilot. Previously, Branson said the target for the first commercial flight was spring 2015, and he and his son would be aboard for the initial launch. He said at the time that almost 800 would-be space tourists had signed up for $250,000 trips.
The program has suffered numerous setbacks, with three people working for Virgin partner Scaled Composites — now a unit of Northrop Grumman Corp. — killed in an explosion in 2007.
Under the plan, a jet will carry the spaceship to almost 50,000 feet (15,000 meters). From there, the rocket-powered craft will climb to 360,000 feet, letting passengers experience weightlessness, dark skies and view the curvature of the Earth.
Branson’s still keen to be on the first launch, he said in the interview.
This article was written by Kari Lundgren and Cory Johnson from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.