Virgin Galactic’s First Space Tourism Flight Delayed (Again) to Q2 2023

Virgin Galactic has postponed its commercial space tourism program for another three months, citing holdups during the refurbishment of its 14-year-old carrier aircraft.

Supply chain and labor constraints delayed the company’s first planned flight from the end of 2022 to the beginning of 2023, Space.com reported(Opens in a new window) in May. Now it’s getting pushed back another quarter to the spring, as Virgin continues work on VMS Eve(Opens in a new window), which carries Virgin’s spacecraft to its release altitude of approximately 50,000 feet.

“While our short-term plans now call for commercial service to launch in the second quarter of 2023,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement(Opens in a new window), “progress on our future fleet continues and many of the key elements of our roadmap are now in place to scale the business in a meaningful way.”

It’s not all stormy skies, though. Virgin Galactic last month announced three major partnerships, each of which moves the spaceflight company another step toward suborbital tourism.

The firm teamed up with Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences to build two new motherships, each designed to fly up to 200 launches a year—starting in 2025.

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Virgin also acquired land for a new astronaut campus and training facility(Opens in a new window) in New Mexico, near its primary launch site, Spaceport America; and unveiled plans for a manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona, that’s expected to open in late 2024 and produce up to six spaceships annually.

“As we prepare to return to the skies, we have put in place many powerful initiatives to drive our long-term success,” Colglazier said, calling these collaborations “cornerstone elements of how we will build and operate our global Spaceline.”

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