FAA Finds Richard Branson's Flight to Space Went Off Course While Landing

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He previously covered technology and entertainment for TheWrap and reported on the SoCal startup scene for the Los Angeles Business Journal. Samson is also a proud member of the Transgender Journalists Association. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter at @Samsonamore. Pronouns: he/him

FAA Finds Richard Branson's Flight to Space Went Off Course While Landing
live.staticflickr.com
The Federal Aviation Administration cleared Virgin Galactic for future takeoffs after closing on Wednesday their investigation into this summer's launch that took billionaire Richard Branson into space.

Virgin's operations were grounded Sept. 2 following its July 11 launch of the SpaceShipTwo, the flight that took its founder Branson and five other civilian astronauts into space. While the craft was descending, it failed to properly communicate with the FAA as it changed course, which swiftly prompted the organization to temporarily shut down Virgin's operations until it could figure out what went wrong.

"The investigation found the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo vehicle deviated from its assigned airspace on its descent from space," the FAA said. The federal air and space regulator also said it found "Virgin Galactic failed to communicate the deviation to the FAA as required."

The space tourism company said it accepted several suggestions from the FAA to ensure future flights are up to code -- including updating calculations to widen the range of protected airspace in future launches to give itself a wide berth. The company said this will alleviate any issues with going out of its designated airspace while returning from space, a key step towards avoiding collisions.

Virgin Galactic's shares jumped more than 10% in after-hours trading following the FAA's announcement. At market close the stock was down 3.5%.

While nothing crashed during the July 11 launch, that was one of the FAA's main concerns when Virgin deviated from its flight path. The New Yorker first reported that a warning light went off in the Virgin Galactic craft during the July launch, warning passengers it was traveling a dangerously shallow flight path, which prompted the change in course.

Unlike its competitors including Elon Musk's SpaceX or Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic opts to have a human crew operate every one of its test flights instead of automating them, which makes precision even more important. After all, it's costly to lose a rocket but the technology can be rebuilt -- if a human dies in the process of a Virgin Galactic launch, that's a loss impossible to recoup.

"Under its license, Virgin Galactic is responsible for ensuring the safe conduct of its launch," the FAA said. "This includes having a robust safety organization with processes and procedures that immediately call attention to potential safety issues."

Virgin said it will also work to provide real-time mission updates to FAA's Air Traffic Control.

Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement Wednesday, "we appreciate the FAA's thorough review of this inquiry. Our test flight program is specifically designed to continually improve our processes and procedures."

Colglazier continued, "the updates to our airspace and real-time mission notification protocols will strengthen our preparations as we move closer to the commercial launch of our spaceflight experience."

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Cadence

Astroforge Raises $13M To Mine Asteroids

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Astroforge Raises $13M To Mine Asteroids

Y Combinator startup Astroforge wants to use its new $13 million seed round to mine asteroids.

The Huntington Beach-based company aims to become the first company to bring asteroid resources back to Earth, TechCrunch reported Thursday. Initialized Capital led the funding round and was joined by investors Seven Seven Six, EarthRise, Aera VC, Liquid 2 and Soma.

Read more Show less

Illumix Founder Kirin Sinha On Using Math to Inform Creative Thinking

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

Illumix Founder Kirin Sinha
Photo courtesy of Illumix

Kirin Sinha wanted to be a dancer. When injury dashed that dream, she turned to her other passion: math.

On this week’s episode of the Behind Her Empire podcast, host Yasmin Nouri talks with the founder and CEO of augmented reality (AR) technology and media platform Illumix.

Read more Show less

Rael Raises $35M To Grow Its Organic Feminine Care Brand

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Rael Raises $35M To Grow Its Organic Feminine Care Brand
Courtesy of Rael

Rael, a Buena Park-based organic feminine care and beauty brand, has raised $35 million in a Series B funding round, the company announced Wednesday.

The funding was led by the venture arms of two Asian companies: Japanese gaming firm Colopl’s Colopl Next and South Korean conglomerate Shinsegae Group’s Signite Partners. Aarden Partners and ST Capital also participated, as did existing investors Mirae Asset and Unilever Ventures.

Read more Show less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS
LA TECH JOBS
interchangeLA
Trending