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The VSS Unity spacecraft carrying Richard Branson, two pilots and three other Virgin Galactic employees set the base for commercial space flights which the company plans to launch starting next year.
In a historic development on Sunday, July 11, billionaire businessman Richard Branson achieved his dream of reaching space. On Sunday, Branson successfully reached space in the company’s spacecraft VSS Unity launched from New Mexico.
In a message released from his spacecraft’s cabin, Branson called it a “complete experience of a lifetime”. He further added:
“I have dreamt of this moment since I was a kid, and honestly nothing could prepare you for the view of Earth from space”.
Accompanying Sir Richard Branson on the VSS Unity flight are two pilots along with three Virgin Galactic employees. The billionaire businessman has poured over a billion dollars into the development of his spacecraft company Virgin Galactic. He’s also quite optimistic about the future of commercial space travel.
VSS Unity, released by a carrier aircraft dubbed VMS Eve, fired its rockets while accelerating three times the speed of sound. Later, VSS Unity performed a backflip in microgravity while entering the space trajectory. Thus, at an altitude of 86.1 kilometers, the Virgin Galactic crew became weightless floating around the spacecraft cabin.
VSS Unity then returned to the atmosphere landing back on the runway of Spaceport America. Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci were the two pilots at the VSS Unity flight. Both of them will officially get the recognition of “astronauts” since both have flown above 80 km.
Branson Is Making Space More Accessible
Including the two pilots, VSS Unity can hold a total of six passengers. Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (NYSE: SPCE) already has 6000 reservations for future flights. Each of these tickets goes for prices between $200,000 and $250,000. Speaking of the development, Branson said:
“We’re here to make space more accessible to all at all. The mission statement that I wrote inside my spacesuit was to turn the dream of space travel into a reality for my grandchildren … and for many people who are alive today, for everybody.”
VSS Unity was the first space flight from Virgin Galactic carrying more than four people. Apart from taking Branson to space, the Virgin Galactic flight had some other goals tied to it. The company is still testing a spacecraft system that will commence commercial services next year in 2022.
The four crew members at VSS Unity will be testing the spacecraft’s cabin and the training program developed by Virgin Galactic. This is the initial preparation before the commercial launch of its space flights. In a short time post landing, Branson announced that Virgin Galactic has joined hands with sweepstakes company Omaze.
This will give them a chance at two seats on “one of the first commercial Virgin Galactic spaceflights” early in 2022. “You have a chance to go to space,” said Branson.
The VSS Unity space flight from Virgin Galactic comes with additional safety measures that will prevent future accidents. The company started testing its Unity flights back in 2017. Last month, the US Federal Aviation Administration also announced a license expansion for Virgin Galactic. As of last Friday’s closing SPCE shares were trading 6.6% down slipping under $50.