29 June, 2023

Virgin Galactic completes inaugural commercial spaceflight

Virgin Galactic completes inaugural commercial spaceflight
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Virgin Galactic has completed its inaugural commercial spaceflight from Spaceport America in New Mexico today.

The Galactic 01 spaceflight carried 13 research payloads and three crew members from the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council of Italy.

The take-off time was 8:30am MT, the altitude at release was 44,500 feet, the apogee was 52.9 miles, the top speed was Mach 2.88 and the landing time was 9:42am MT.

Virgin Galactic will now begin post-flight inspections and analysis in preparation for its next commercial space mission, Galactic 02, which will bring its unique experience to private astronauts. The mission is scheduled for August, with Virgin Galactic planning monthly flights to space beginning thereafter.

“Today, our team successfully flew six people and more than a dozen research payloads to space in VSS Unity, our unique, suborbital science lab,” said Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier. “This historic flight was our first commercial flight and our first dedicated commercial research mission - ushering in a new era of repeatable and reliable access to space for private passengers and researchers. Galactic 02, our first spaceflight with private astronauts, is planned for August and we expect VSS Unity to continue with monthly space missions while we simultaneously work to scale our future spaceship fleet for a global audience.”

The crew onboard Galactic 01 was:

Astronaut 008, Col. Walter Villadei, Italian Air Force

Astronaut 009, Lt. Col Angelo Landolfi, Physician, Italian Air Force

Astronaut 010, Pantaleone Carlucci, Engineer, National Research Council of Italy

Astronaut 003 Colin Bennett, Astronaut Instructor, Virgin Galactic

VSS Unity was piloted by commander Mike Masucci and pilot Nicola Pecile, with VMS Eve piloted by commander Kelly Latimer and pilot Jameel Janjua.

Col. Walter Villadei of the Italian Air Force said:   "I am beyond proud to be a part of this historic spaceflight. Galactic 01 is Italy’s first commercial suborbital research spaceflight, and an amazing achievement made possible thanks to the long-lasting collaboration between the Italian Air Force and the National Research Council of Italy. During the centennial year of both Italian institutions, we fly to the highest point of our history.

"This groundbreaking collaboration propels Italy into the new era of commercial spaceflight as a pathfinder, fostering innovation and paving the way for further technological enhancement in this strategic domain. Together, and in partnership with Virgin Galactic, we have set a precedent for future endeavours and the boundless possibilities that lie ahead. We honour today all the people that not only have made possible this amazing flight, but all the ones that have dedicated their life to our beliefs in this past 100 years. Virtute Siderum Tenus."