Virgin Galactic close to final phase of test flights for carrier aircraft and spaceship

IndustriesAssociated Press

Virgin Galactic has reached another pair of milestones as it works toward the goal of beginning commercial flights from Spaceport America in southern New Mexico.

CEO George Whitesides says the Federal Aviation Administration this week released its approval for the permit that will enable Virgin Galactic to restart powered flights.

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The company has also completed qualification firings for its rocket motor.

With the motor and crew in place, Whitesides says the company will soon be moving into the final phase of its test flight program, where it will reach for increasingly higher altitudes for its carrier aircraft and spaceship.

Some of the final tests will take place in New Mexico. Others will be in the Mojave Desert.

Whitesides was in New Mexico this week for an annual symposium on commercial and personal spaceflight.