Virgin Galactic plans next rocket-powered test flight for February 13th

Virgin wants to know if it fixed the failure from December.

Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic is ready to give SpaceShipTwo another shot after its last flight ended with a motor failure. The private spaceflight firm now expects to conduct its next rocket-powered test flight as soon as February 13th, with chances later in the month if that initial launch date isn’t an option. Pre-flight prep is already underway, including training for the VMS Eve host aircraft.

Not surprisingly, Virgin is eager to check the “remedial work” meant to address the December 12th failure. The flight will otherwise include all the tests that were intended for the previous flight, such as evaluating parts of the passenger cabin, livestreaming to the ground and verifying upgraded components like the horizontal stabilizers and flight controls.

More is riding on this launch than usual. The December mission was meant to be one of the first rocket-driven flights since February 2019, and one of the last tests before Virgin shifted its focus toward space tourism operations. If the company wants to carry paying customers relatively soon, it needs tests like this to complete without a hitch.