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Published on Friday, September 3, 2021

FAA probes Virgin Galactic space flight 'mishap'

The Federal Aviation Administration has grounded Virgin Galactic while it completes an investigation into an incident that occurred during its most recent test flight.

It was Virgin's first fully manned flight that included founder Richard Branson.

The FAA said the SpaceShipTwo aircraft veered off course on its return to its New Mexico base which took it outside of air traffic control coverage.

It was carrying Branson and five Virgin Galactic employees and the company said no one was in any danger during the descent miscalculation.

"Virgin Galactic may not return the SpaceShipTwo vehicle to flight until the FAA approves the final mishap investigation report or determines the issues related to the mishap do not affect public safety," the FAA said.

Virgin Galactic said the plane dropped below the protected airspace for one minute and 41 seconds.

The change of trajectory was caused by high-altitude winds, Virgin said,  and the  pilots 'responded appropriately.'

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