The license award comes as the new vehicle, VSS Unity, begins to stretch its legs with the first tests conducted out of the hangar.
Unity conducted the first taxi test Aug. 1 to evaluate and calibrate the navigation and communications/telemetry systems. Unity was pulled by a Range Rover Autobiography provided by Virgin Galactic’s automotive partner Land Rover, the same vehicle that will be used to tow Unity off the runway after flight tests.
The license award, which will ultimately permit commercial operations of the vehicle, was the culmination of several years of in-depth interaction with the FAA. The license review process consists of an in-depth review of the vehicle’s system design, safety analysis and flight trajectory analysis, culminating in FAA-AST approval.
“The granting of our operator license is an important milestone for Virgin Galactic, as is our first taxi test for our new spaceship,” said Mike Moses, Virgin Galactic senior vice president of Operations. “While we still have much work ahead to fully test this spaceship in flight, I am confident that our world-class team is up to the challenge.”