Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity takes its first commercial flight into space

By Digit NewsDesk | Published on Dec 14 2018
Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity takes its first commercial flight into space
HIGHLIGHTS

The spacecraft reached to an apogee of 51.4 miles and achieved speeds of Mach 2.9.

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VSS Unity, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, made history today with its maiden flight into the suborbital space. This feat is notable because its the first time the company’s crewed vehicle made for passenger, commercial service entered into space. Mark “Forger” Stucky and Frederick “CJ” Sturckow piloted the VSS Unity, which took off from Mojave, CA and it also carried NASA’s space science and technology payloads, making this Virgin Galactic’s first revenue-generating flight. The commercial spacecraft had a 60-second planned rocket motor burn, which made it fly at thrice the speed of sound and to an apogee of 51.4 miles.

Commenting from the flight line Richard Branson said, “Many of you will know how important the dream of space travel is to me personally. Ever since I watched the moon landings as a child I have looked up to the skies with wonder. We started Virgin nearly 50 years ago dreaming big and loving a challenge. Today, as I stood among a truly remarkable group of people with our eyes on the stars, we saw our biggest dream and our toughest challenge to date fulfilled. It was an indescribable feeling: joy, relief, exhilaration and anticipation for what is yet to come.”

“As VSS Unity coasted upwards through the black sky and into space, Virgin Galactic Mission Control confirmed the news and congratulated the two astronaut-pilots: 'Unity, Welcome to Space.' After a Mach 2.5 supersonic re-entry into the atmosphere, which utilised Unity’s unique 'feathering' configuration, Forger and CJ guided the spaceship down to a smooth runway landing and an emotional homecoming welcome.” The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also recognised the mission and announced that the two pilots for this mission will be awarded FAA Commercial Astronaut Wings at a ceremony in Washington DC. 

Today’s successful run helps certify that the company’s spacecraft is safe for carrying passengers safely to and from space. The company previously said that it has already sold hundreds of tickets for taking passengers to space, at the cost of $250,000 per ticket.

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