Virgin Galactic to Pause Space Flights to Focus on Developing Its Next-Generation Delta-Class Spacecraft

By Jace Dela Cruz

Mar 01, 2024 02:05 AM EST

Virgin Galactic has announced a pause in its space flights to redirect resources to developing its next-generation Delta-class spacecraft that will bring "long-term success." 

(Photo : FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
WhiteKnightTwo, carrying SpaceShipTwo, takes flight over Spaceport America, northeast of Truth Or Consequences, on October 17, 2011 in New Mexico.

Virgin Galactic Flies to a New Direction

According to Ars Technica, despite a series of successful SpaceShipTwo rocket plane flights in 2023, which brought the company closer to realizing its vision of space tourism, Virgin Galactic is now pivoting towards a new direction in pursuit of long-term success.

In a quarterly earnings call this week, Virgin Galactic's president and CEO, Michael Colglazier, emphasized the company's focus on transitioning from dream to reality, highlighting plans to develop and test a new fleet of rocket planes, referred to as Delta-class ships, which are expected to surpass the capabilities of the current VSS Unity. 

The decision to halt flights of the VSS Unity following the upcoming Galactic 07 mission underscores Virgin Galactic's commitment to redirecting resources toward developing and testing more advanced spacecraft.

"That dream behind Virgin Galactic came into sharp focus as we repeatedly flew spaceship Unity in 2023... Now, in 2024, we're poised for even more meaningful accomplishments as we build the fleet of spaceships that will turn the dream into reality and long-term success," Colglazier noted.

Virgin Galactic aims to commence ground and flight testing of its first Delta-class ship next year, with commercial service targeted for 2026.

READ NEXT: Virgin Galactic Unveils New Space Tourism Rocket Plane 

Galactic 07 Mission of Virgin Galactic 

The upcoming Galactic 07 mission, which will be the final flight of VSS Unity, is scheduled for the second quarter of this year. 

While technical anomalies were reported during previous flights, Virgin Galactic assures the safety of operations, emphasizing that financial considerations rather than technical limitations primarily drive the decision to retire VSS Unity.

Despite having a substantial cash reserve, Virgin Galactic continues to face financial challenges, reporting low revenues and significant net losses in the past few years. The company's market valuation has also experienced a decline since its public listing in 2019.

READ MORE: NASA Aims to Put Humanoid Robots in Space to Do Dangerous Jobs

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