By Stephen Nakrosis
Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. on Thursday said it will begin a planned enhancement program on its VMS Eve and VSS Unity vehicles.
The company said once the work is complete, it will conduct its Unity 23 test flight.
In preparation for the enhancement program, Virgin Galactic said it found "a possible reduction in the strength margins of certain materials used to modify specific joints," which requires further physical inspection.
"While this new lab test data has had no impact on the vehicles, our test flight protocols have clearly defined strength margins, and further analysis will assess whether any additional work is required to keep them at or above established levels," Virgin Galactic said. The company also said it will complete that work in parallel with its planned enhancement program.
Following the enhancement period, the company said, it plans to complete testing of the vehicles, including a planned research test flight with the Italian Air Force, prior to starting commercial flights. Virgin Galactic said it expects to resume commercial service in the fourth quarter of next year.
Write to Stephen Nakrosis at [email protected]