The company became aware of the detached pin only after it conducted post-flight reviews of the aircraft.
“No public injuries or public property damage have been reported,” the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed.
The spacecraft was grounded, however, while the FAA investigated what they called a “mishap.”
The alignment pin is used to ensure that the rocket carrying the tourists is aligned to the mothership when mating the vehicles on the ground during pre-flight procedures.
“During mated flight, as the vehicles climb towards release altitude, the alignment pin helps transfer drag and other forces from the spaceship to the shear pin fitting assembly and into the pylon and center wing of the mothership,” the company said.
“The shear pin fitting assembly remained both attached and intact on the mothership with no damage. While both parts play a role during mated flight, they do not support the spaceship’s weight, nor do they have an active function once the spaceship is released.”
The paired aircraft typically stays attached to the mothership until it reaches a height of 45,000 feet.
Virgin Galactic is required to conduct a final report, including any corrective actions, that must be approved by the FAA before another flight can take off.
The company is planning another voyage — its seventh ever — for the second quarter of 2024.
Virgin Galactic enjoyed its first commercial outer space trip in August 2023, nearly 20 years after Branson founded the company.
It has since made six trips beyond Earth’s atmosphere, the most recent of which suffered the alignment detachment.