Earlier this morning (July 11), billionaire Richard Branson and three other passengers briefly flew into space for the first manned spaceflight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo space plane.
At 8:40 a.m. local time (10:40 a.m. EST; 1440 GMT), the crew of Virgin Galactic’s Unity 22 test flight took off from the company’s U.S. spaceport facility in New Mexico and crossed the border in space, four passengers and two pilots experienced approximately four minutes of weightlessness.
This is an “unforgettable experience of a lifetime,” Branson said in a live flight broadcast. Branson was designated as “Astronaut 001” for the Unity 22 mission, and founded the Virgin Group, including Virgin Galactic. The
SpaceShipTwo aircraft named VSS Unity successfully conducted a manned suborbital test flight, ascended 282,000 feet (86 kilometers) above the earth’s surface, then glided back to the US spaceport and landed without problems on the track.
Related: Learn About Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo Unity 22
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Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson Is In The Cockpit Of VSS Unity During The Ascent Of The Space Plane On July 11, 2021
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson stands in the cockpit of VSS Unity during the ascent of the space plane on July 11, 2021. (Image source: Virgin Galactic)
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson (left) and his other passengers make the fourth space flight in the VSS Unity cabin on July 11, 2021. On July 11, 2021, during VSS Unity’s fourth space flight,
Virgin Group founder Richard Branson (left), and his other passengers were in the VSS Unity cabin. (Image source: Virgin Galactic)
Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson (third from right) will take off on the company’s first manned flight as part of a six-person crew on July 11, 2021. They are (from left): driver Dave McKay; Coplin Bennet, Chief Operations Engineer; Beth Moses, lead astronaut instructor; Branson; Sirisha Bandla, Vice President of Government Affairs and Investigative Operations; and pilot Michael Masucci. Sir Richard Branson (third from right), the founder of
Virgin Galactic, will take off on the company’s first manned flight as part of a crew of six on July 11, 2021. They are (from left): the pilot Dave McKay; Coplin Bennet, Chief Operations Engineer; Beth Moses, lead astronaut instructor; Branson; Sirisha Bandla, Vice President of Government Affairs and Investigative Operations; and pilot Michael Masucci. (Image source: Virgin Galactic)
This test flight was the company’s fourth manned spaceflight, but it was the first time it carried a crew of two pilots and four mission experts. In addition to Branson, the crew flying today includes Beth Moses, Virgin Galactic’s lead astronaut instructor; Colin Bennet, the company’s chief operations engineer; and Sirisha Bandla, Virgin Galactic’s vice president of government affairs and investigative operations. The
Unity 22 mission took off from the U.S. Spaceport. The company’s VSS Unity spacecraft rose to an altitude of 50,000 feet (15,000 meters) with the help of its VMS Eve “mothership,” a WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft. After reaching this altitude, VMS Eve released the space plane, from where it flew 53 miles (86 kilometers) above the surface of the earth, then returned to the earth and landed not far from where it took off.
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There has been some debate about whether this flight officially enters space. The height reached by VSS Unity is high enough that according to the standards set by the U.S. military, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and NASA, the crew on board has been given astronaut wings, which limit outer space to 50%. Miles (80 kilometers). However, it lies below the Carmen Line, another known outer space boundary, which begins at an elevation of 62 miles (100 kilometers).
Virgin Galactic’s competitor Blue Origin pointed out this difference, and the company will launch a new manned suborbital flight Shepard with founder Jeff Bezos on July 20. This next mission will go through the Carmen line.
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Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo aircraft carrier, VSS Unity, crashed from its aircraft carrier on July 11, 2021, on its fourth flight into suborbital space.
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo aircraft carrier, VSS Unity, crashed from its fourth aircraft carrier on July 11, 2021 and flew into suborbital space. (Image source: Virgin Galactic) During Unity flight 22 on July 11, 2021, Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity unit
can be seen during the ferry flight. During the ferry flight, 4,444 Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity can be seen reaching launch height during Unity flight 22 on July 11, 2021. (Image source: Virgin Galactic) 4,444 VSS Unity SpaceShip Two spacecraft The Virgin Galactic carried Richard Branson and three other passengers on its fourth space flight on July 11, 2021. July 11, 2021 Virgin Galactic’s
VSS Unity SpaceShip spacecraft made its fourth space flight. (Image source: Virgin Galactic) In July,
VSS Unity took it into suborbital space on January 11, 2021.
VSS Unity entered suborbital space on July 11, 2021. (Image source: Virgin Galactic)
Take a closer look at the VSS Unity rocket engine in operation on July 11, 2021.
Observe the VSS Unity’s rocket engine from a close range. It was put into use on July 11, 2021. (Image source: Virgin Galactic)
VSS Unity landed after completing its fourth entry into suborbital space on July 11, 2021.
VSS Unity landed on January 11, 2021 after completing its fourth entry into suborbital space in July. (Image source: Virgin Galactic)
According to the company’s statement, Virgin Galactic wanted the crew to evaluate the “private astronaut experience” during the Unity22 test flight. According to the shared statement, the focus of this flight is “cabin objectives and customer experience”, which includes evaluating the comfort and feeling of the cabin in the full-crew situation, weightlessness and the experience of seeing the earth from space, and showing how the crew conducts research experiments . See how astronauts are training in the US spaceport

 

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