After more than a decade of preparation, Virgin Galactic has completed its first commercial space flight. This was reported by Engadget.
After launching from the VMS Eve mothership, the VSS Unity spacecraft reached an altitude of about 52 miles, or the limit of space by American standards. Almost 15 minutes later, it touched down at Spaceport America in New Mexico, completing the Galactic 01 research mission.
— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) June 29, 2023
The company’s first client was the Italian government, which aimed to conduct microgravity research. On board were Air Force colonel Walter Villadei, Air Force lieutenant and flight surgeon Colonel Angelo Landolfi, and Pantaleone Carlucci, a research council member acting as flight engineer and payload specialist. Unity was piloted by retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Michael Masucci and Nicola Pecile, with Virgin Galactic trainer Colin Bennett also on board.
Before the commercial flight, Virgin Galactic had made a total of five crewed space flights, the most recent of which took place in late May with four employees on board.
As you know, last year Virgin Galactic postponed a commercial flight into space for the second quarter of 2023. The company cited “extended completion dates (ie, delays) in the mothership improvement program” as the reason.