CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that Virgin Galactic cannot launch anyone into space again until an investigation is complete into a mishap that occurred during July’s flight with founder Richard Branson.
The ban came as Virgin Galactic announced plans to launch three Italian researchers to the edge of space in a few weeks.
The FAA said the rocketship carrying Branson and five Virgin Galactic employees veered off course during its descent back to its runway in the New Mexico desert on July 11. The deviation put the ship outside the air traffic control clearance area.
The FAA is overseeing the probe; it’s responsible for protecting the public during commercial launches and reentries. Crew safety, on the other hand, is outside its jurisdiction. Virgin Galactic insisted Thursday that Branson and everyone else on board were never in any added danger.