While the first flights to space for tourists organized by Virgin Galactic were to take place at the end of 2022, the company finally announced that it was late. The first flights are delayed for at least six months.
Still late for Virgin Galactic. While the company created in 2004 had initially planned to organize its first tourist flights in space in 2010, it had finally, after more than 10 years of delay, declared that the first rotations would take place at the end of the year 2022. This will ultimately not be the case. Virgin Galatic has announced that flights should finally take off in the second quarter of 2023.
The announcement was rather discreet: the information was hidden in the financial results of Virgin Galatic, published on August 4, 2022, at the very end of the document. The explanation is in one sentence: the start of commercial service is expected in the second quarter of 2023, due to delays in the mothership improvement program “.
Virgin Galactic falls behind Blue Origin
The “mothership,” as Virgin Galactic calls it, is one of the most essential components of the spaceflights the company offers. This ship’s mission is to bring the shuttle, in which the tourists will be, up to a certain altitude, before dropping it and it begins its ascent in space. If the mother ship itself does not go into space, it therefore plays a very important role.
The mothership improvement program, which Virgin Galactic began this summer, should help to increase the rate of flights. In its financial results, the company also said it had asked Boeing to build two other motherships, which should each be able to operate more than 200 flights per year. They aren’t expected until 2025, though — so they’re not really helping Virgin Galactic’s situation.
Last year, in July 2021, Richard Branson, the billionaire and owner of Virgin Galactic made a successful first flight, to the edge of space, thus beating his rival Jeff Bezos by a few days. But while Virgin Galactic seemed to have a head start in the race between the two billionaires, the company fell behind. As for Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ company, has just launched its 6th tourist crew into space.