Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity Completes Human Spaceflight
It marks the Richard Branson-founded company's third foray into space and aerospace's first-ever successful launch from New Mexico.
The battle of the billionaires hoping to claim their stake in outer space wages onward.
This past weekend, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceflight company successfully reached outer space for the third time in its history when it launched the VSS Unity to an altitude of slightly more than 44,000 feet (it was designed to go as high as roughly 50,000). It also marks the first time any aerospace company has launched from New Mexico.
“Today’s flight showcased the inherent elegance and safety of our spaceflight system, while marking a major step forward for both Virgin Galactic and human spaceflight in New Mexico,” Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic, said in a statement. “We will immediately begin processing the data gained from this successful test flight, and we look forward to sharing news on our next planned milestone.”
The VSS Unity, reached a speed of Mach 3 after being released from its “mothership,” the VSS Eve.
It was a historic flight for pilot-in-command CJ Sturckow who is now the first and only person to fly into space from three different American states.
“I am proud of the team for their hard work and grateful to the people of New Mexico who have been unwavering in their commitment for commercial spaceflight from day one,” Branson said. “Their belief and support have made today’s historic achievement possible.”
The successful flight comes at an ideal time for Virgin Galactic, which hopes to receive a commercial license in order to launch flights for paying customers. There have also been recent reports of Branson selling millions in company stock amid pandemic losses.
“By repeatedly demonstrating high levels of safety, unparalleled customer experience and commercial viability, we will create conditions that will lead to rapid innovation and expansion,” the company added.
As mentioned earlier, commercial space exploration has been a hot topic as of late. Just last week, an online auction opened to the public for a seat on the New Shepard, a spacecraft designed by Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin company. The current highest bid is a casual $2.8 million.