Life Science FAA clears Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to resume launches

FAA clears Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to resume launches

US aviation authorities have closed their mishap investigation into Virgin Galactic's spaceship and allowed it to resume launches. Photo: AAP
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Virgin Galactic says US regulators have cleared it to resume launches after an investigation into why its spaceship veered off course while descending during a July flight with founder Richard Branson aboard.

The company said the Federal Aviation Administration had accepted corrective actions proposed by Virgin Galactic.

A larger area will be designated as protected airspace to ensure there is room for “a variety of possible flight trajectories during spaceflight missions”, a company statement said on Thursday (Australian time).

Virgin Galactic said it would incorporate additional steps in its flight procedures to ensure real-time mission notifications to FAA air traffic control.

Chief executive Michael Colglazier said the company was committed to safety and appreciated the FAA’s review.

During the July 11 incident, the rocketship carrying Branson and five employees deviated outside the air traffic control clearance area on its descent to a runway in New Mexico.

The FAA imposed a halt on flights pending the investigation.

Virgin Galactic has said high-altitude wind caused the change in flight path and insisted the two pilots responded appropriately.

The company said the ship did not travel over population centres or cause a hazard to the public.