July 22, 2024

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Virgin Galactic is launching three propelled customers into space

Virgin Galactic is launching three propelled customers into space

From Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic shared a short clip of passengers on its third commercial mission to suborbital space on its social media channels. The passengers were not immediately identified by the company.

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Virgin Galactic has made its third commercial spaceflight, launching three paying customers on a roughly 90-minute flight and briefly touching the edge of space.

Customers who rode inside the spaceplane’s cabin were among Virgin Galactic’s first ticket holders, having waited nearly two decades for the opportunity.. Space tourists have been booking their trips as early as 2005, according to Virgin Galactic New releasewhen the company was still in the early stages of its development program.

Among the passengers was a Las Vegas real estate mogul ken baxter, Who confirmed his participation on his personal website.

Virgin Galactic did not reveal the names of the other two customers before the launch but later issued a message New release By their names and countries of origin: Timothy Nash, a British citizen of South Africa; And Adrian Renard from the United Kingdom.

The company’s rocket-powered spaceplane, VSS Unity, took off At 8:34 a.m. EDT (10:34 a.m. EDT) Friday from Spaceport America — a sprawling campus in New Mexico that Virgin Galactic uses as a home base — connected to a massive, double-hulled mothership called VMS Eve, According to updates Shared on social media. (The event was not broadcast live.)

The mothership took off like an airplane and climbed to more than 40,000 feet (12,192 meters) before launching the VSS Unity about 45 minutes into the flight. VSS Unity then fired its rocket engine to propel the spacecraft and passengers more than 50 miles (80 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface. They enjoyed a few minutes of weightlessness and sweeping views of our planet below before returning to the spaceport’s landing strip.

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Also on board were two Virgin Galactic pilots, Commander Nicola Bissell and Michael Masucci. Beth Moses, the company’s chief astronaut trainer, rode in the cabin alongside the passengers, where she served as a tour guide on the suborbital flight, which reached altitudes that the US government considers the beginning of outer space. In the United States, officials recognize the 50-mile (80 km) mark as the boundary where space begins, while some international organizations use the mark. Karman lineWhich is located 62 miles (100 kilometers) above the Earth’s surface. But there is a lot of gray area.

The mission set off what Virgin Galactic said would be a regular rhythm for the company, with tourists embarking on supersonic flights to high altitudes about once a month.

The start of regular operations comes after years of delays, halted development and failed tests, including a test flight in 2014 that led to the death of the co-pilot.

Since then, the company has been steadily improving its technology. After Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson flew on the spaceplane in the summer of 2021 — in a flight that was later deemed to have gone off course — the company spent more than a year working on the technology.Reinforcement” program.

Galactic’s subsequent flights have been “excellent,” Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said during a call with investors in August, setting the company up to begin regular operations.

However, questions loom as to whether the company can right itself financially and start turning a profit in the near future, and investors seem unsure yet. Virgin Galactic shares have lost more than 30% of their value over the past month despite the company’s recent successes. (It currently trades at about $2 per share.)

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Eventually, the company plans to send hundreds of people into space, offering thrills to anyone who can afford it and competing directly with Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin in the suborbital space tourism business. Blue Origin plans to return to flight as soon as this year after an unmanned science mission for its suborbital rocket in 2022. to fail After launching from its facilities in Texas.

In its first commercial launch, Virgin Galactic carried out Members of the Italian Air Force An Italian engineer on a scientific research mission. On its final flight, on August 10, VSS Unity carried the first two space travelers from Antigua, a mother-daughter duo who won their seats in a charity fundraiser, and former US Olympian John Goodwin, who became the second person with Parkinson’s disease. Space travel sickness.

All said, Virgin Galactic sold about 800 ticketsincluding 600 points previously priced at $250,000 USD, and more recently a few hundred more at $450,000 USD per ticket.

Baxter, a passenger on Friday’s flight, documented much of his trip on his website and social media. In a post before the launch, he told what it was like to wait on the sidelines for nearly 20 years, waiting for his chance to fly.

He added: “I watched the project in its infancy, mourned the tragic loss of a brave pilot and the serious injury of another in 2014, and celebrated the successful flight of our founder, Sir Richard, in July 2021.” books In a blog post titled “My Turn.” “Despite all the victories and setbacks, my dream never faded.”

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Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Ken Baxter’s real estate practice.