Virgin Galactic, the space tourism company founded by billionaire Richard Branson, successfully completed its first commercial spaceflight on Thursday, June 29, 2023. The flight, which carried three Italian customers to an altitude of more than 50 miles (80 kilometers), marked a major milestone for the company and the commercial space tourism industry as a whole.
The flight took off from Spaceport America in New Mexico and lasted about an hour and a half. The rocket plane, called VSS Unity, was carried to an altitude of about 45,000 feet (13,700 meters) by a carrier aircraft called VMS Eve. Once released from the carrier aircraft, VSS Unity fired its rocket motor and climbed to an altitude of 53.3 miles (85.9 kilometers). The passengers then experienced several minutes of weightlessness before the rocket plane began its descent and landed safely back at Spaceport America.
The three Italian customers who flew on the first commercial spaceflight were:
- Paolo Nespoli: A former Italian astronaut who has flown on three Space Shuttle missions.
- Luca Parmitano: A current Italian astronaut who has flown on two Space Shuttle missions and one Soyuz mission.
- Vito Mangiatordi: An aerospace engineer from the National Research Council of Italy.
The successful completion of the first commercial spaceflight is a major victory for Virgin Galactic and a sign that the commercial space tourism industry is starting to take off. The company has already sold more than 600 tickets for future flights, which are priced at $450,000 per seat. Virgin Galactic plans to begin regular commercial flights in 2024.
The successful completion of this flight is also a major milestone for Richard Branson, who has been working on the project for over 15 years. Branson himself flew on a test flight of VSS Unity in 2021, becoming the first billionaire to travel to space.
The success of Virgin Galactic’s first commercial spaceflight is a major step forward for the commercial space tourism industry. It shows that it is possible to safely and reliably fly passengers to space, and it paves the way for other companies to enter the market. This could lead to a new era of space tourism, in which wealthy individuals can experience the thrill of spaceflight for themselves.thumb_upthumb_downuploadGoogle itmore_vert