Virgin Galactic has delayed its commercial space tourism program by three months, citing delays in the refurbishment of its 14-year-old carrier aircraft.
According to Space.com(Opens in a new window), supply chain and labor constraints pushed the company’s first planned flight from the end of 2022 to the beginning of 2023. It has now been pushed back another quarter to the spring as Virgin continues to work on VMS Eve(Opens in a new window), which will transport Virgin’s spacecraft to its release altitude of approximately 50,000 feet.
“While our short-term plans now call for commercial service to begin in the second quarter of 2023,” said Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier in a statement(Opens in a new window), “progress on our future fleet continues, and many of the key elements of our roadmap are now in place to scale the business in a meaningful way.”
But it’s not all bad weather. Virgin Galactic announced three major partnerships last month, each of which takes the spaceflight company one step closer to suborbital tourism.
The company collaborated with Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences to build two new motherships, each capable of flying up to 200 launches per year beginning in 2025.
Virgin also purchased land in New Mexico for a new astronaut campus and training facility(Opens in a new window) near its primary launch site, Spaceport America, and announced plans for a manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona, that will open in late 2024 and produce up to six spaceships per year.