Virgin Galactic was the very first company to announce that it was selling tickets to space, way back in 2012. Ever since its first round of $200,000 (now $250,000) tickets went on sale, however, the space agency has suffered a few setbacks. Which, you know, is fair. When your primary aim is to function as a space tourism company, you really want to be certain everything is working correctly.
Happily, the fledgling space company has reported some fresh success. Its VVS Unity has, for the first time, completed a rocket-powered flight from its New Mexico-based Spaceport America facility.
Fly, Virgin Galactic
— Virgin Galactic (@virgingalactic) May 22, 2021
The successful test flight, which occurred on 22 May, is the first of four that are scheduled to take place this year. VSS Unity was carried up to a height of about 13 kilometres by Virgin’s VMS Eve aircraft. From there, VSS Unity detached and fired its rocket engine. It reached Mach 3, and a height of 88 kilometres (or, you know, space) before turning and gliding back to Earth.
Pilots C.J. Sturckow and Dave Mackay took themselves, VSS Unity and several NASA experiments from the Flight Opportunities program with them into space and back. This is the first spaceflight from Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport America and the third overall since the company’s inception. It’s… a bit late. Actual paid passenger flights, which will use the company’s SpaceShip craft, are set to start from 2022.