Watch the Virgin Galactic ace’s ultimate space cruise flight test

Virgin Galactic has successfully completed what will be its final test flight before launching its commercial suborbital rocket flight services next month.

Thursday’s mission was the second fully crewed test flight, following the first in 2021, when Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson and five others flew to the edge of space aboard the rocket-powered VSS Unity.

Virgin Galactic shared a highlight reel that included Unity blasting into the sky and the crew floating in the cabin on Earth.

Following the same steps as Branson’s flight, VMS Eve carried VSS Unity to 50,000 feet after liftoff from its Spaceport America facility in New Mexico at 10:37 a.m. local time.

After releasing Unity at 44,500 feet, the plane fired its rocket engine, powering the crew to an altitude of 54.2 miles, about eight miles short of the Karman line, the point generally considered the beginning of the universe.

After a few minutes of weightlessness and a moment to admire the amazing views of Earth, the crew, all Virgin Galactic employees, returned to their seats to head home to the runway at Spaceport America at 10:37 a.m. local time. .

“The Unity 25 mission was a fantastic achievement for everyone at Virgin Galactic,” said company CEO Michael Colglazier after Unity returned home safely. “Having witnessed the pure joy of our inspiring crew upon landing, I have complete confidence in the unique astronaut experience we have created for our customers.”

Virgin Galactic said the team’s next task is to carefully inspect the Eve and Unity vehicles and review all other data collected in the coming weeks. After that, it will be able to confirm Virgin Galactic’s first commercial flight, Galactic 01, which is currently scheduled for June.

While Thursday’s flight went smoothly, it wasn’t easy for Virgin Galactic to get here. In 2014, when the plane broke up during a test mission, killing pilot Michael Alsbury and delaying the project for several years, a number of other problems also slowed things down.

But with Thursday’s flight in the bag, Virgin Galactic could begin commercial service in just weeks, offering wealthy and well-heeled passengers an unforgettable journey to the edges of space.

Hundreds of people have already paid $450,000 each for a seat, and so Virgin Galactic wants to finally launch a space tourism service not only to satisfy its long-suffering customers, but also to keep the business going.

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