Virgin Galactic delays its next rocket-powered test flight

It wants more time for technical checks.

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Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Unity test flight
Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Unity test flight  Quinn Tucker for Virgin Galactic

You'll have to wait a while longer for Virgin Galactic to resume rocket-powered test flights. As CNBC reports, Virgin has delayed the SpaceShipTwo test flight after determining that it needed extra time for "technical checks" while conducting pre-flight work. The space tourism company didn't say when it might try again, although it previously said it could try later in February if a hoped-for launch on the 13th wasn't viable.

This was supposed to be Virgin's re-do of a December flight that ended with a rocket motor failure. The firm believed it had a solution and was to use this weekend's test to verify the fix. Two more test flights are slated to follow before shifts its focus to full-fledged commercial service.

While the delay isn't necessarily a major setback, it's certainly not what Virgin wanted. The company is under pressure to finally offer space tours after years of development, and the delays only add to the frustration. It doesn't help that rivals like SpaceX have space tourism plans of their own — it won't be a good look if Virgin is late despite all its efforts to launch first.

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