Virgin Galactic plans to conduct its first spaceflight launch from its Spaceport America complex in New Mexico as part of NASA's Flight Opportunities Program focused on Earth imaging and space-based research data collection.
Mike Moses, president of space missions and safety at Virgin Galactic, said in a blog post published Monday that the company will send three payloads to orbit for the flight test.
In June, Virgin Galactic conducted the second flight test for its SpaceShipTwo spacecraft at Spaceport America.
The company updated the spaceship with horizontal stabilizers and other flight control system elements in line with the company's goals for future long-term commercial spaceflights, Moses noted.
He added that Virgin Galactic also plans to test the vehicle's internal cabin camera suite to assess its capacity to transmit imaging data in real-time to ground stations.
According to Moses, the company will commence data reviews and subsequent assessments following the test flight to further evaluate the spaceship's equipment as well as related training procedures.
He also said that Virgin Galactic expects the upcoming flight to provide data for the company's final verification reports to the Federal Aviation Administration in compliance with commercial licensing regulations.