The US Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA-AST) has awarded Virgin Galactic an operating licence for SpaceShipTwo.
The licence award comes as the new vehicle, VSS Unity, begins to stretch its legs with the first tests conducted out of the hangar. Unity conducted the first taxi test on August 1 to evaluate and calibrate the navigation and communications/telemetry systems.
The licence award, which will ultimately permit commercial operations of the vehicle, was the culmination of several years of in-depth interaction with the FAA. The licence review process consists of an in-depth review of the vehicle’s system design, safety analysis and flight trajectory analysis, culminating in FAA-AST approval.
Virgin Galactic Senior Vice President of Operations Mike Moses said: “The granting of our operator licence is an important milestone for Virgin Galactic, as is our first taxi test for our new spaceship. While we still have much work ahead to fully test this spaceship in flight, I am confident that our world-class team is up to the challenge.”