At 16.30 Italian time the take-off of the Vss Unity for the first mission of the company with a full crew on board. The return was successful at 5.41 pm
The first commercial suborbital flight of the Vss Unity, the branded space plane Virgin Galactic, with a full crew on board, led by the founder of the aerospace company, theBritish businessman Sir Richard Branson. A fundamental test for the company, which focuses on suborbital travel and with this mission, Unity 22, the 22nd test flight for Vss Unity, sent a full crew into space for the first time, broadcasting the event in live streaming.
The mission started ninety minutes later than the schedule due to the weather conditions in the morning, at 16.30, Italian time, from the spaceport America in the city of Truth or consequences in Nex Mexico. With Branson, born in 1950, on board the space plane climbed Beth Moses, chief astronaut instructor of the company, who directed the test in space and supervised that the first flight took place safely and efficiently with respect to the objectives set; Colin Bennett, chief engineer for the operational part, to control the take-off phase and the “floating” situation that travelers experienced at the peak of the flight, as if they were on the International Space Station (ISS); Sirisha Bandla, vice president of government affairs and research operations, who monitored an experiment on traveler conditions through a procedure developed by the University of Florida. The mission pilots are Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci for Vss Unity and CJ Sturckow and Kelly Latimer for Vms Eve.
The spacecraft has reached a supersonic speed, Mach 3. When it reached the altitude and point predicted by the flight plan, the Unity spacecraft broke away from the mother ship Eve to reach 53.5 miles in height (approximately 86 kilometers) and perform suborbital flight. The aircraft traced an arc, reaching the point where the astronauts could live a zero gravity experience, floating in the cabin without a helmet and contemplating the land from the windows of the vehicle. Subsequently Vss Unity carried out the reentry maneuver, landing like an airplane on the runway of the spaceport in New Mexico.
The departure was presented by the American comedian and conductor, Stephen Colbert, with comments by former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, Virgin Galactic engineer Veronica McGowan, and US aerospace professional and science writer Kellie Gerardi. Khalid’s music is also on stage. After landing Branson and Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier announced a press conference. Elon Musk, owner of SpaceX, visited Branson in the morning before departure and witnessed the flight from the spaceport.
Big day ahead. Great to start the morning with a friend. Feeling good, feeling excited, feeling ready.
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) July 11, 2021
Excited to be part of history today and to cheer on @richardbranson and our brothers and sisters at @virgingalactic. We are honored to join the community of space pioneers to celebrate this milestone! pic.twitter.com/n5FS2jswT0
— Virgin Orbit (@VirginOrbit) July 11, 2021
The suborbital flight
Branson lived the experience of a private astronaut aboard the aircraft, a service on which Virgin Galactic relies, which has already received theauthorization of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the launch of passengers in the suborbital belt. Vss Unity reached a height of 86 kilometers, without exceeding the famous Kármán line, the imaginary threshold placed at a height of 100 kilometers beyond which, for the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, we can say that we have really gone into space.
For the ad Colglazier the flight is “a milestone for the company and a historic moment for the new commercial space industry. With each successful mission we have cemented the path for a new generation of astronauts“. Branson added: “We are the vanguard of a space age“. Virgin has announced a collaboration with the Omaze website, to launch online campaigns, and Space for humanity, to enlist the next astronauts.