Virgin Galactic, the space company founded by Richard Branson, has made a major accomplishment by completing its first manned mission to the edge of space. This historic commercial flight on June 29 is a significant milestone for Virgin Galactic after twenty years of hard work and commitment.
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- During the mission, there were two Italian Air Force personnel who were sponsored by the organization.
- Colonel Walter Villadei, who is also scheduled to participate in a future paid mission with SpaceX to orbit, and Lieutenant Colonel Angelo Landolfi, a physician trained to serve as a crew surgeon for Russian cosmonauts, were among the passengers on the flight.
- In addition to the aforementioned individuals, the group also included Pantaleone Carlucci, an engineer associated with Italy’s National Research Council, and Colin Bennett, a Virgin Galactic astronaut instructor who had previously flown with Richard Branson in 2021.
- Bennett’s main responsibility was to evaluate the comfort and functionality of the flight, offering valuable insights to further improve Virgin Galactic’s rocket-powered spaceplane, VSS Unity.
- The extraordinary journey began at Virgin Galactic’s spaceport in New Mexico and unfolded in several stages. The passengers boarded VSS Unity, which was safely attached beneath the wing of the impressive twin-fuselage mothership, VMS Eve.
- Similar to an airplane, VMS Eve accelerated along the runway before ascending to an altitude surpassing 40,000 feet. Once it reached the designated altitude, VMS Eve released VSS Unity, allowing the spaceplane to ignite its rocket engine and ascend directly upward, propelling it toward the outer reaches of the atmosphere.
- Ascending more than 80 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, VSS Unity soared to the altitude recognized by the United States government as the boundary of outer space. It achieved supersonic speeds during its ascent and experienced moments of weightlessness at the pinnacle of its flight, as it entered into freefall and gracefully glided back to the spaceport for a smooth runway landing. The entire expedition lasted approximately 90 minutes.
About Virgin Galactic
- Virgin Galactic is an American spaceflight company founded by Richard Branson and the Virgin Group conglomerate which retains an 11.9% stake through Virgin Investments Limited.
- It is headquartered in California, and operates from New Mexico.
- The company is developing commercial spacecraft and aims to provide suborbital spaceflights to space tourists.
- Virgin Galactic’s suborbital spacecraft are air launched from beneath a carrier airplane known as White Knight Two.
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How much does it cost to fly on Virgin Galactic?
The cost of a ticket on a Virgin Galactic spaceflight is $450,000. This includes the cost of the flight, training, and ground support.
Where will Virgin Galactic flights take off and land?
Virgin Galactic flights will take off and land at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Spaceport America is a purpose-built spaceport that is located in the desert.