Virgin Galactic shares fell Monday after the company said it would postpone its next space flight until at least the middle of next month, blaming a possible manufacturing defect in vehicles.
Last Friday, Virgin Galactic announced the postponement of test flight Unity 23 with the Italian Air Force, saying a third-party supplier flagged the potential manufacturing defect in a component of the flight control actuation system during preparation for the flight.
“At this point, it is not yet known whether the defect is present in the Company’s vehicles and what, if any, repair work may be needed,” said the statement. “Out of an abundance of caution, and in line with Virgin Galactic’s established safety procedures, the Company is in the process of inspections in partnership with the vendor.”
The statement noted that the Unity 23 postponement is unrelated to the Unity 22 flight “or the current FAA matter.” Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed it is probing an anomaly from Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic July 11 space flight, saying the Unity 22 flight “deviated from its Air Traffic Control Clearance as it returned to Spaceport America.”
The flight with the Italian Air Force was expected to take place late this month or early next month.
Virgin Galactic shares ultimately slid 3.4% in premarket trading on Monday.