Virgin Galactic Delays SpaceShipTwo Test Flight Due to Weather

Virgin Galactic called off a planned test flight today (Feb. 20) of its VSS Unity space plane because of bad weather at its Mojave Air and Space Port launch site in California, company officials said.

"Our test flight window opened this morning, but the Mojave weather isn't cooperating," Virgin Galactic representatives said in a Twitter statement. "We plan to try again in the next few days. We'll keep you posted."

Today's test would have been VSS Unity's first flight since its historic Dec. 13 flight, when it crossed 50 miles (80 kilometers), which marks one definition of where space begins.  [In Photos: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Unity 1st Trip to Space

Virgin Galactic prepared its VSS Unity spaceplane on Feb. 17 for a Feb. 20 test flight that was scrubbed by weather conditions. (Image credit: Virgin Galactic/Twitter)

Whenever it successfully launches, the flight will be Virgin Galactic's fifth powered test flight of the VSS Unity, and it has a couple of goals to accomplish. For one, engineers want to gather data about the plane's center of gravity during flight; Unity is also scheduled to carry research payloads provided by NASA.

Another key priority is the company's suborbital space tourism agenda: The team wants to iron out details relating to the design of the passenger cabin.  

"It is of paramount importance to our future business success that we not only give our future astronauts a safe ride, but an experience which exceeds expectations," a company statement released before the flight reads. "We know, as part of a Group that has led the way in commercial aviation customer experience, cabin design is fundamental to that objective and so this element is an integral part of our flight test program."

Company founder Richard Branson said earlier this month that he hopes to take his own first flight to space aboard VSS Unity on July 16, the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11.

Tickets on Virgin Galactic's future flights are currently estimated to cost $250,000 a piece.

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Meghan Bartels
Senior Writer

Meghan is a senior writer at and has more than five years' experience as a science journalist based in New York City. She joined in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.