Get All Access for $5/mo

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.

By Emily Rella

GENE BLEVINS | Getty Images

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.

Related: You Can Now Take A Ride In Jeff Bezos' Rocket Ship for $2.8 Million

"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.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business Solutions

Increase Productivity with This Microsoft 365 Subscription, Now $25 Off

It can make the entrepreneur life a lot easier.

Business News

Apple Pay Later Is Ending. Here's What's Taking Its Place.

The program was available for less than a year.


This Artist Answered a Businessman's 'Powerful' Question — Then His Work Became 'the Poster Child for Juneteenth': 'Your Network Really Becomes Your Net Worth'

Reginald Adams was the executive director of a Houston-based art museum for more than a decade before he decided to launch his own public art and design firm.


Harvard Business School Professor Says 65% of Startups Fail for One Reason. Here's How to Avoid It.

Team alignment isn't nice to have -- it's critical for running a successful business.

Business News

Here's What Companies Are Open and Closed on Juneteenth 2024

Since it became a holiday in 2021, Juneteenth has been recognized by some major corporations as a paid day off.

Growing a Business

I Hit $100 Million in Annual Revenue by Being More Transparent — Here Are the 3 Strategies That Helped Me Succeed

Three road-tested ways to be more transparent and build relationships that can transform your business — without leaving you feeling nightmarishly over-exposed.