Virgin Galactic Unity-22

Virgin Galactic Unity-22Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity lifts off from Spaceport New Mexico on its first fully-crewed flight with passengers, including Virgin Galactic founder/owner Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic’s Beth Moses (who flew aboard a previous flight), Sirisha Bandla, and Colin Bennett, with veteran Virgin Galactic pilots David Mackay and Michael Masucci at the vehicle’s controls. The flight is suborbital only, but does earn the rookies among its crew their commercial astronaut wings. The flight was only announced at the beginning of July, where some observers interpreted the announcement as an attempt to upstage the previous announcement that Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin would be flying a fully crewed New Shepard capsule on July 20th. Independent flight of Unity lasts approximate 14 minutes, from drop/booster ignition from its carrier aircraft to landing (total time in both air and space for those aboard is approximately 58 minutes, from takeoff of the carrier aircraft to Unity‘s touchdown on the runway). (The flight system of carrier aircraft and air-dropped spacecraft was established almost exactly 17 years earlier in the first SpaceShipOne flight by Scaled Composites, which sold the design to Virgin Galactic for commercial development.)