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Richard Branson unconcerned by spaceflight investigation

Branson spaceflight probe

Virgin Galactic boss Richard Branson has been grounded after his July spaceflight got him in trouble with American authorities - and a potential defect may further delay upcoming flights.

Branson - who appeared on U.S. morning show Today on Tuesday to chat about his new cruise line, Virgin Voyages, which is launching in October - seemed unconcerned about the investigation into his July 11 space mission by chiefs at America's Federal Aviation Administration.

The music mogul insisted the historic launch "couldn't have gone better", despite the "tiny" error, which agency bosses are now looking into.

Earlier this month, chiefs at the governmental agency issued a statement about their investigation into the trip, revealing Branson and his Virgin Galactic colleagues are currently barred from organising further space flights.

"It was a test flight. As far as I was concerned, it just couldn't have gone better," Branson said.

"It felt like it went straight up into space. Sometime later, I learned it went a tiny bit out of the designated area, but still over desert," he explained of the voyage, which launched from New Mexico. "It wasn't over any cities or anything like that, and it was only for a minute."

And the space snafu isn't the only current headache for the British business leader.

Last week, Virgin Galactic officials announced they had pushed back their second mission "out of an abundance of caution" because of a possible manufacturing defect that might affect its VSS Unity space plane.

The second launch - originally scheduled for late September - is now expected to blast off in mid-October, according to company officials.

Tourist flights, which were initially priced at $450,000 and higher per passenger, are still scheduled to start next year.



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