Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has successfully completed its latest test flight into space.
Called Unity 25 spaceflight, the mothership VMS Eve took off from Spaceport America, New Mexico, at 9:15am MT on Thursday, May 25, 2023.
Strapped to VMS Eve was the VSS Unity, the spaceship that blasts into space upon reaching the correct altitude of about 40,000 feet.
Shortly after take-off, Mission Control reported that VSS Unity was “GO for release” and the spaceship was disconnected from the mothership.
While VMS Eve glided safely back down to earth, the crew aboard VSS Unity spent a few brief moments in space where they experienced weightlessness and took in the incredible views.
The successful expedition was the 25th flight for VSS Unity. It was Virgin Galactic 5th spaceflight, the first for two years.
At 10:37am Mission Control announced: “Touchdown, VSS Unity! Our crew and spaceship are back on Earth after landing smoothly at Spaceport America, New Mexico.”
VSS Unity was piloted by Virgin Galactic’s Mike Masucci and CJ Sturckow, while VMS Eve was flown by Jameel Janjua and Nicola Pecile.
Also aboard were chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses, astronaut instructor Luke Mays, senior engineering manager Christopher Huie and senior manager of internal communications Jamila Gilbert.
“New Mexico, you are even more enchanting from space,” said Jamila Gilbert, in reference to the state’s motto, Land of Enchantment. “I flew to space just one hour from the street I grew up on. It is hard to put into words what this experience was like, but I’m sure I’ll spend the rest of my life trying. I’m not only honored to be one of the first 100 women and one of 16 Hispanic and Latinx people to go to space, I’m also incredibly proud to represent the community from where this new space age is blossoming.”
With a passenger waiting list of around 600, paying between $200,000 and $250,000 each, Virgin Galactic will be looking to launch the first commercial flights in June 2023.
“The ‘Unity 25’ mission was a fantastic achievement for everyone at Virgin Galactic,” said Michael Colglazier, CEO. “Witnessing our inspiring crew’s pure joy upon landing, I have complete confidence in the unique astronaut experience we have built for our customers. Our teams now begin post-flight analysis as well as preparation for ‘Galactic 01’, our commercial research mission, planned for late June.”