Virgin Galactic plans next rocket-powered test flight for February 13th

Virgin Galactic announced Feb. 1 that the company will launch its SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane in mid-February, two months after a technical problem aborted an earlier launch attempt.

In a statement, Virgin Galactic said the window for its next SpaceShipTwo flight will open Feb. 13 at Spaceport America in New Mexico. The exact date of the flight will depend on “good weather conditions and technical readiness,” the company said.

Virgin is eager to check the “remedial work” meant to address the December 12th failure. The flight will otherwise include all the tests that were intended for the previous flight, such as evaluating parts of the passenger cabin, livestreaming to the ground and verifying upgraded components like the horizontal stabilizers and flight controls.

The December mission was meant to be one of the first rocket-driven flights since February 2019, and one of the last tests before Virgin shifted its focus toward space tourism operations. If the company wants to carry paying customers relatively soon, it needs tests like this to complete without a hitch.

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