Virgin Galactic today confirmed that the next rocket-powered test flight of SpaceShipTwo Unity will be conducted on May 22, pending weather and technical checks. This follows the completion of a maintenance review of VMS Eve, the mothership jet aircraft designed to carry SpaceShipTwo to an altitude of approximately 50,000 feet.
“Following a detailed inspection and thorough analysis of our mothership, Eve, we have cleared our Spaceflight System for our upcoming flight. I want to thank our incredibly talented team of engineers, maintenance crew, quality inspectors and support staff for their diligence and hard work, which is testament to our commitment to safety and the integrity of our flight test program,” said Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic.
Virgin Galactic regularly monitors its vehicles to verify their condition and inform timing of future upgrades and modifications that can improve performance or reduce future maintenance work. A post-flight inspection of VMS Eve in early May called for further engineering analysis to assess a known maintenance item in the tail of the vehicle, which was scheduled to be addressed during the next maintenance period. This analysis has been completed with the Company determining structures healthy, clearing Eve for flight.
The upcoming VSS Unity test flight will be crewed by two pilots and will carry research payloads as part of the NASA Flight Opportunities program. A key objective of the upcoming flight will be to test the remedial work that has been completed on VSS Unity to lower the EMI levels experienced on the December 12, 2020 flight when the onboard computer halted ignition of the rocket motor. The flight will also incorporate all original test objectives, including assessment of the upgraded horizontal stabilizers and flight controls during the boost phase of the flight, evaluating elements of the customer cabin, and testing the live stream capability from the spaceship to the ground.
Following this May flight, and in line with normal procedures, the team will complete an extensive data review, which will inform the next steps in the test flight program.
About Virgin Galactic Holdings
Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. is a vertically integrated aerospace and space travel company, pioneering human spaceflight for private individuals and researchers, as well as a manufacturer of advanced air and space vehicles. The Company is developing a spaceflight system designed to offer customers a unique and transformative experience. You can find more information at https://www.virgingalactic.com.
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of federal securities laws with respect to Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (the "Company"), including statements regarding the Company’s spaceflight systems, markets and expected flight schedule. These forward-looking statements generally are identified by words such as “believe,” “project,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “intend,” “strategy,” “future,” “opportunity,” “plan,” “may,” “should,” “will,” “would,” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this press release, including but not limited to the factors, risks and uncertainties included in Amendment No. 2 to our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020, as such factors may be updated from time to time in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"), accessible on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov and the Investor Relations section of our website at www.virgingalactic.com. These filings identify and address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause the Company’s actual events and results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and, except as required by law, the Company assumes no obligation and does not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.