Virgin Galactic reschedules test flight window to start December 11

FILE PHOTO: A Banner hangs outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) ahead of the Virgin Galactic (SPCE) IPO in New York, U.S., October 28, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - Space tourism company Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc said on Tuesday it had set a new test-flight window opening on Dec. 11, after pausing preparations last month due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by New Mexico.

The Richard Branson-founded company said the rocket-powered test flight would also carry payloads for NASA as part of a contract announced on Monday.

The flight will test elements of the spacecraft's customer cabin, stabilizers and flight controls during boost.

Virgin Galactic is aiming to obtain a commercial operating license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration after conducting a certain number of test flights.

The test flight, initially planned from its New Mexico spaceport between Nov. 19-23, was put on hold after the state enacted a stay-at-home order through Nov. 30 amid surging coronavirus cases.

The December flight, pending good weather conditions and technical readiness, will be conducted by essential personnel only, with no guests or media onsite, Virgin Galactic said.

(Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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