Virgin Galactic pushes back next test flight as it makes 'enhancements' to its spaceplane

Three months after Richard Branson reached the edge of space, Virgin Galactic, his space tourism company, is postponing its next test flight to make what it calls enhancements to its space plane that would make it safer over the long-term, the company announced Thursday.

Foto: Washington Post photo by Jonathan Newton.

The decision means that a test flight scheduled for this month, which was to have flown members of the Italian Air Force and National Research Council, will be delayed until the second half of next year, and commercial service wouldn’t begin until the fourth quarter of that year, the company said.

The stand down is yet another sign of the complexities of human space flight and comes as a number of companies have been working on flying paying customers to either the edge of space or to orbit. Virgin Galactic has repeatedly delayed flying its paying customers, some of whom have waited years. After suspending ticket sales, which had been priced at $250,000 each, the company announced this year it was reopening tickets sales at $450,000 each...

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