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FAA clears Virgin Galactic to resume flights after investigation

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FAA clears Virgin Galactic to resume flights after investigation
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo fires thrusters to reach space in July. Photo courtesy of Virgin Galactic | License Photo

Sept. 29 (UPI) -- The Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday that Richard Branson's space tourism company can return to spaceflight after conducting an investigation into issues with the firm's July 11 launch.

A probe into the flight, which included Branson as a passenger, found the company's SpaceShipTwo deviated from its assigned airspace as it descended to Spaceport America in New Mexico, according to the FAA.

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"The FAA also found Virgin Galactic failed to communicate the deviation to the FAA as required," the agency said.

The FAA had grounded Virgin while the investigation proceeded.

The agency said it required Virgin to implement changes regarding communication to the FAA during flight operations to keep the public safe.

"Virgin Galactic has made the required changes and can return to flight operations," the FAA said in a news release.

The FAA said it is responsible for protecting the public from potential space mishaps, while Virgin Galactic is responsible for protecting its crew.

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Inspiration4, the world's first all-civilian mission to space, safely returns to Earth while splashing down on the Atlantic Ocean outside of Florida, on September 18, 2021, following their groundbreaking three-day mission. Photo courtesy of SpaceX | License Photo

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