Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic starts first commercial spaceflight in two weeks

The first flight will fly three crew members from the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council of Italy to undertake microgravity research.
Mrigakshi Dixit
Unity 24 glide flight.
Unity 24 glide flight.

Virgin Galactic 

Richard Branson's space tourism company Virgin Galactic is gearing up to launch its first commercial spaceflight by the end of this month.

The company announced plans for two consecutive commercial flights on Thursday, June 15. 

Galactic 01, the first spaceflight mission, is scheduled to launch between June 27 and June 30. The second Galactic 02 flight has been planned for early August. After the two flights, the company aims to kickstart monthly commercial flights.

First mission to conduct microgravity study

As per the company announcement, the first will focus on scientific research. It will fly three crew members from the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council of Italy to undertake microgravity research.

Several scientific payloads will be deployed on board Virgin Galactic's suborbital science lab for this research mission. 

“We are launching the first commercial spaceline for Earth with two dynamic products - our scientific research and private astronaut space missions. This next exciting chapter for Virgin Galactic has been driven by innovation, determination, and commitment to delivering an unparalleled and truly transformative customer experience,” said Michael Colglazier, CEO of the company, in a press statement

According to the BBC, Virgin Galactic shares increased by over 40 percent in extended New York trade soon after this announcement. 

Over 800 tickets sold to people

The space tourism flight venture has reportedly sold over 800 seats. The company’s flights offer a breathtaking view of the Earth from space, as well as weightlessness for a few minutes – from over 260,000 feet(80 kilometers) above Earth. This brief space journey costs a whopping $450,000 per person.

The final test spaceflight of its rocket plane Unity took place last month. The rocket carrying two pilots and four passengers flew high above the New Mexico desert in the United States during this test. 

 “Virgin Galactic's team and vehicles are ready to fly the company's first customers to space, having successfully completed the Unity 25 spaceflight and subsequent routine analysis and vehicle inspections,” the company mentioned in the statement. 

Before the big commercial debut, Unity had previously conducted five test trips to suborbital space. Virgin Galactic's suborbital spaceflight system comprises primarily two units: a carrier plane known as "VMS Eve" and a pilot space plane known as VSS Unity.

If all goes out as planned, the first commercial trip will lift off from New Mexico's Spaceport America this month.

Virgin Galactic is also constructing a fleet of new "Delta-class" space aircraft that will allow for weekly suborbital trips in the near future. In addition to Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin offers paid journeys into suborbital space. 

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board