Virgin Galactic Grounds Flights After Alignment Pin Detaches: Space Tourism Setback 

By: Nitin Singh

Virgin Galactic's space tourism flight encountered a setback as an alignment pin detached during its Galactic 06 voyage, prompting the grounding of its rocket. 

Eight individuals, including four pilots and four paying customers, were on board during the incident, which occurred on January 26, 2024. 

Despite the detachment, all passengers returned safely to the launch pad in New Mexico, with no reported injuries or damages. 

The alignment pin, crucial for pre-flight alignment and managing forces during ascent, prompted an FAA investigation, leading to the spacecraft's grounding. 

Virgin Galactic plans to resume operations pending FAA approval for corrective measures, aiming for a seventh voyage in the second quarter of 2024. 

The setback follows Virgin Galactic's successful commercial spaceflight in August 2023, marking a milestone in its two-decade journey since its 2004 inception. 

This incident underscores the complexities and risks inherent in commercial space travel, as Virgin Galactic remains committed to overcoming challenges in its mission.