On Saturday, Virgin Galactic was forced to terminate a pioneering test flight of her “space plane”
A minute before takeoff, the air-launched tourism aircraft, which aims to send paying customers into space by mid-2021, was given the all-clear.
After it was carried to an altitude of about 9.4 miles, however, it did not undock as expected from its mother ship.
The first Scot in space, Dave Mackay, and former Nasa astronaut CJ Sturckow were on board the craft.
First Scot in space makes history at the ‘tourist aircraft’ test flight controls today
“The firing sequence for the rocket motor was not completed,” the company reported on Twitter.
“Vehicle and crew are in good shape. We have multiple engines ready at Spaceport America. We will check the vehicle and be ready to fly again soon.”
The event was live-tweeted by Richard Branson’s team, with no guests or media permitted to comply with strict Covid 19 protocols on the site.
The flight was the first of three final demonstration flights before next year’s tourist service starts.
So far, 600 customers have agreed to pay $250,000 for a seat on board the plane, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Bieber, to fly 60 miles above Earth.
Another 400 have shown interest in ticket reservations.