US spaceflight company Virgin Galactic has announced that its latest spaceflight attempt was unexpectedly aborted following an engine failure.

During the flight test from its base in New Mexico, the motor of the SpaceShipTwo vehicle ‘VSS Unity’ did not fully ignite. It was piloted by CJ Sturckow and Dave Mackay.

Unity’s flight carried Nasa’s micro-gravity experiments, as part of the contracts secured under the Flight Opportunities programme, reported CNBC.

Virgin Galactic said on Twitter: “The ignition sequence for the rocket motor did not complete. Vehicle and crew are in great shape.

“We have several motors ready at Spaceport America. We will check the vehicle and be back to flight soon.”

After aborting the flight, Virgin Galactic confirmed the spacecraft successfully landed back at Spaceport America in New Mexico. The company noted both pilots were ‘safe and sound’.

The company added on the social media platform: “As we do with every test flight, we are evaluating all the data, including the root cause assessment of the computer communication loss.

“We look forward to sharing information on our next flight window in the near future.”

Virgin Galactic conducted the flight test after deferring it last month in response to coronavirus (Covid-19) guidelines issued by the New Mexico Department of Health.

The company was planning to test elements of the customer cabin and evaluate upgraded horizontal stabilisers and flight controls.