The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has grounded Virgin Galactic‘s SpaceShipTwo after The New Yorker published a story on Wednesday detailing a near mishap aboard the company’s inaugural spaceflight.
According to The New Yorker, two of the pilots aboard the July 11 spaceflight ignored warnings “that their flight path was too shallow and the nose of the ship was insufficiently vertical.” When the ship, which was carrying billionaire founder Richard Branson on board, returned, it veered outside of Air Traffic Control airspace.
The agency confirmed to Reuters that it was investigating the incident, saying in a statement: “Virgin Galactic may not return the SpaceShipTwo vehicle to flight until the FAA approves the final mishap investigation report or determines the issues related to the mishap do not affect public safety.”
In its response, Virgin Galactic said it was “addressing the causes of the issue and determining how to prevent this from occurring on future missions,” according to Reuters.
Virgin Space Ship Unity 22 successfully reached the edge of space on July 11. The mission was aimed at evaluating the cabin and customer experience, views of Earth from space, the conditions for conducting research and the effectiveness of a five-day pre-flight training program offered at Spaceport America. Upon return, the crew hailed the mission a success.