Praise from FAA for Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo’s Flight Above 50 Miles

SpaceShipTwo’s two pilots after landing. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Statement of FAA Assistant Administrator Bailey Edwards
on the Successful Virgin Galactic Flight

Let me start by congratulating Virgin Galactic on a successful flight and return from space for the first time since 2004. We applaud your determination and pioneering spirit that delivered today’s milestone flight.

This year, it seems that we continue to reach new milestones within an industry that truly seems to see no earthly bounds. If you’re looking for the next big thing, commercial space is it. Safely growing this aerospace sector is a priority of President Trump, Vice President Pence and Transportation Secretary Chao who represents us with the President’s National Space Council.

For us, we want to assure you that the FAA is committed to making sure that commercial space is safe. We’re streamlining regulations to make these launches a daily occurrence. Like the early days of aviation, these commercial space flights take grit and innovation—the very attributes it takes to blaze a trail for generations to follow.

It’s that grit and innovation we want to recognize. In 2004, we issued the first ever Commercial Astronaut Wings to SpaceShipOne pilots Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie. Today, on behalf of FAA Acting Administrator, Dan Elwell, I’d like to announce that with today’s achievement, Mark (Stuckey) and CJ (Sturckow) have earned Astronaut Wings, and we’d like to invite you, Richard, George, Mark (Stuckey), CJ (Sturckow), and the SpaceShip2 and WhiteKnight2 teams to Washington, D.C., in the new year for Mark and CJ to receive their wings.

Congratulations once again and we look forward to seeing you all in soon to recognize today’s achievement. Well done.

Statement of FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell

We commend Virgin Galactic’s successful test flight and return to space. Commercial space has great potential for American economic and innovative leadership. The FAA is committed to helping ensure commercial space transportation grows safely. We are pleased that Virgin Galactic is among the many pioneers of space flight helping write a new chapter in aerospace history.