Sir Richard Branson has been temporarily banned from going back into space.

Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson

The 71-year-old businessman and five of his employees flew to the edge of space in his Virgin Galactic rocket plane SpaceShipTwo in July, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the craft veered off course during its decent back to the runway in New Mexico, putting it outside the air traffic control clearance area, and so the firm must stay grounded while the "mishap" is investigated.

The FAA said 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."

Virgin Galactic confirmed the flight did drop below the altitude of the airspace for a short distance for one minute and 41 seconds due to unexpected high winds, but insisted no one on board was ever in danger.

They said: "Although the flight's ultimate trajectory deviated from our initial plan, it was a controlled and intentional flight path that allowed Unity to successfully reach space and land safely at our spaceport in New Mexico.

"At no time were passengers and crew put in any danger as a result of this change in trajectory, and at no time did the ship travel above any population centres or cause a hazard to the public."

The company are "working in partnership with the FAA to address the airspace for future flights".

Richard previously hailed his journey to the edge of space "the experience of a lifetime".

Speaking at a press conference after the flight, he said: "I have dreamt of this moment since I was a kid, but honestly nothing can prepare you for the view of Earth from space. The whole thing was just magical."

The trip was a test for the space tourism experience Richard is hoping to launch next year and he revealed he'd made a lot of notes on what could be improved.

He said: "I've had my notebook with me and I've written down 30 or 40 little things that will make the experience for the next person who goes to space with us that much better.

"The only way sometimes you can find these little things is to get in a spaceship and go to space and experience it for yourself."