People, Travel

Virgin Galactic Gets License for New Rocket

Virgin Galactic Gets License for New RocketVirgin Galactic Gets License for New Rocket

Virgin Galactic says it has received an operating license for its space tourism rocket from the US Federal Aviation Administration.

The firm says the operating license awarded by the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation will ultimately permit commercial operations, AP reported.

The company said on Monday the licensing process involved a review of the system’s design, safety analysis and flight trajectory analysis.

Virgin Galatic’s first spaceship broke apart in 2014 during its fourth rocket-powered test flight when the co-pilot prematurely unlocked a key system.

The second version of the company’s SpaceShipTwo was unveiled in February and named VSS Unity by famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking.

The first taxi test of the new spacecraft took place on Monday morning at the Mojave, California, airport.

The taxi test evaluated and calibrated navigation and communications telemetry systems, as it was pulled by a sports utility vehicle.

“We’ve still got a bit more work to do before [SpaceShipTwo] takes to the skies, but this effectively means that when we feel ready to start flying, we can start flying,” said Will Pomerantz, vice president for special projects at Virgin Galactic. “The key permissions are in place.”

So far, a lot of people have signed up to ride into space on the VSS Unity—mostly those with a lot of cash to burn, according to The Verge. One ticket on the spaceplane costs $250,000, a price that many celebrities, such as Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Ashton Kutcher, have already paid for.

Virgin Galactic said that it did lose a few customers after the accident, but that its numbers have recovered since then.