Recent material tests have produced new data that require further analysis
Mission of the Italian Air Force follows the improvement phase
Fixed potential problem with supplier components
Commercial service is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2022
LAS CRUCES, NM, October 14, 2021– (BUSINESS WIRE) – Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) (the “Company” or “Virgin Galactic”), a vertically integrated aerospace company, announced today that it is now with its proposed expansion The program for VMS Eve and VSS Unity will begin and, once this work has been completed, the Unity 23 test flight will be carried out.
The improvement program is designed to improve vehicle performance and airspeed capability for VMS Eve and VSS Unity. In preparation for this work, Virgin Galactic conducted routine testing and analysis to update its database of material properties. This data predicts how materials are likely to behave under certain load and environmental conditions and is used to inform the design and manufacturing improvements that support increased flight frequency. One of these recent laboratory-based tests indicated a possible reduction in the strength limits of certain materials used to modify certain compounds, and this requires further physical investigation.
As is common with aerospace testing and evaluation practices, Virgin Galactic ships are designed to withstand forces much greater than those used in normal use, providing additional leeway and levels of security. The improvement program is designed to further increase margins, allowing for improved reliability, durability and reduced maintenance in commercial operations. While this new lab test data had no impact on the vehicles, our flight test protocols have clearly defined strength ranges and further analysis will assess whether additional work is required to keep them at or above the established levels. Given the time required to do this, the company has determined that the most efficient and convenient way to provide commercial service is to complete this work now in parallel with the planned improvement program.
After the improvement phase, the company intends to complete the vehicle test program for VMS Eve and VSS Unity, including the planned research test flight with the Italian Air Force, before commercial flights begin.
Michael Colglazier, Virgin Galactic’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “Our decisions are based on detailed and thorough analysis, and we fly protection that far exceeds the stresses experienced and anticipated on our flights, both companies and, based on the most accurate and comprehensive data available our customers. We are deeply grateful to the Italian Air Force’s research mission and grateful for their continued partnership with us on this flight test program. “
This schedule update is unrelated to the company’s recent investigation into a potential defect in a supplier component, which was announced and successfully resolved on September 10, 2021. Although the shipped component in question was not on either VMS Eve or VSS Unity, Virgin Galactic performed detailed inspections and scans in accordance with safety protocols which showed that all components met quality and safety standards and were ready to fly. The improvement phase is now starting about a month later than expected, and commercial service is now expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2022.
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About Virgin Galactic Holdings
Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. is a vertically integrated aerospace company pioneering human space travel for individuals and researchers with its advanced aerospace vehicles. It develops a space system that connects the world to the wonders and awe of space travel, providing customers with a transformative experience. More information is available at https://www.virgingalactic.com/.
This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of federal securities laws regarding Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (the “Company”), including statements about the Company’s space systems, markets and anticipated flight schedule. These forward-looking statements are generally identified by words such as “believe”, “project”, “expect”, “anticipate”, “estimate”, “intend”, “strategy”, “future”, “opportunity”, “plan”, “,“ Could ”,“ should ”,“ will ”,“ would ”and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, forecasts and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and are therefore subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this press release, including, but not limited to, the factors, risks, and uncertainties set out in Amendment No. 2 to our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year includes fiscal year ended December 31, 2020 as these factors may be updated from time to time in our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) which are available on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov and in The Investor Relations area is accessible on our website at www.virgingalactic.com. These filings identify and address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events and results for the company to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements only apply at the time of their publication. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements and the company undertakes no obligation or does not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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