Billionaire Richard Branson is the first civilian to fly to space on his new model created by Virgin after seventeen years of trial and error. Branson took off today for a trip that was truly out of this world, ushering in new democratization of space travel.
Today’s flight, VSS Unity, represents a seismic shift in space travel.
Branson said this was his flight to space “the experience of a lifetime” in a radio transmission from the VSS Unity rocketplane. Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity rocketplane reached an apogee of 282,000 feet, after a “good burn” of its hybrid rocket motor.
Sir Richard Branson said: “I truly believe that space belongs to all of us. After more than 16 years of research, engineering, and testing, Virgin Galactic stands at the vanguard of a new commercial space industry, which is set to open space to humankind and change the world for good. It’s one thing to have a dream of making space more accessible to all; it’s another for an incredible team to collectively turn that dream into reality. As part of a remarkable crew of mission specialists, I’m honored to help validate the journey our future astronauts will undertake and ensure we deliver the unique customer experience people expect from Virgin.”
The flight’s four mission specialists included:
Following this flight, and in line with normal procedures, the team will complete inspections of the vehicles and an extensive data review, which will inform the next steps in the test flight program. Two additional test flights are planned before the Company expects to commence commercial service in 2022.
Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic, said: “Our flight VSS Unity and our first fully crewed flight test, a testament to the dedication and technical brilliance of our entire team, and I’d like to extend a special thank you to our pilots and mission specialists, each of whom will be performing important work. Tapping into Sir Richard’s expertise and long history of creating amazing customer experiences will be invaluable as we work to open the wonder of space travel and create awe-inspiring journeys for our customers.”