Virgin Galactic resumes spaceflights after two year pause

Virgin Galactic resumes spaceflights after two year pause

Virgin Galactic resumes spaceflights after two year pause

Virgin Galactic successfully carried out its first spaceflight in nearly two years on May 25 , the company said, after an “enhancement period” to make safety upgrades to its fleet.

It was the fifth time the space tourism company brushed the boundary of space, and has been billed as the final test before commercial operations can begin in late June, with members of the Italian Air Force as the first paying customers.

The Unity 25 mission flew four of the company employees to an altitude of just over 54 miles (87 kilometers) above sea level.
Virgin Galactic’s space program has suffered years of delays and a 2014 accident in which a pilot died.

Unlike other companies that use vertical-launch rockets, Virgin Galactic uses a carrier aircraft with two pilots that takes off from a runway, gains high altitude, and drops a rocket-powered plane that soars into space at nearly Mach 3, before gliding back to Earth.

The total journey time is 90 minutes, with passengers experiencing a few minutes of weightlessness in the space plane’s cabin.

Virgin Galactic has sold 800 tickets for future commercial flights - 600 between 2005 and 2014 for $200,000 to $250,000, and 200 since then for $450,000 each.

It competes in the “suborbital” space tourism sector with billionaire Jeff Bezos’ company, Blue Origin, which has already sent 32 people into space.

But since an accident in September 2022 during an unmanned flight, Blue Origin’s rocket has been grounded. The company promised in March to resume spaceflight soon.