Pioneer Richard Branson Ushers in New Era where Spaceflight is for Everyone

Posted

 

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:

  • Beth Moses, Chief Astronaut Instructor at Virgin Galactic. Moses will serve as cabin lead and test director in space, overseeing the safe and efficient execution of the test flight objectives.
  • Colin Bennett, Lead Operations Engineer at Virgin Galactic. Bennett will evaluate cabin equipment, procedures, and experience during both the boost phase and in the weightless environment.
  • Sirisha Bandla, Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations at Virgin Galactic. Bandla will be evaluating the human-tended research experience, using an experiment from the University of Florida that requires several handheld fixation tubes that will be activated at various points in the flight profile.
  • Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic. Branson will evaluate the private astronaut experience and will undergo the same training, preparation and flight as Virgin Galactic’s future astronauts. The Company will use his observations from his flight training and spaceflight experience to enhance the journey for all future astronaut customers.

    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.”

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment