Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Unity 22 launch with Richard Branson.

 On July 11, Virgin Galactic took a big step towards commercial suborbital space flight. The company launched the first manned flight of its SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity, with a special passenger on board: Richard Branson, the company's billionaire founder.



Branson, three crew members and two pilots started this historic flight after being brought into launch position by Virgin Galactic's VMS Eve aircraft carrier. They will take off from the company's home port of the US Spaceport in New Mexico and will record the flight via webcast. This is all you need to know about the mission, Virgin Galactic calls it Unity 22.

What time was Virgin Galactic launched?

Virgin Galactic began its webcast mission at 10:30 AM Eastern Time (1430 GMT). About an hour ago, the crew got out of the ship. The mothership VMS EVE was released in Unity and will be launched at 11:20 AM EST/1520 GMT, and will land at 11:35 AM EST/1535 GMT.

Stephen Colbert, the host of the CBS Evening Show hosted the webcast, singer Khalid made his new single New Normal debut during the launch, former Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield and future Wei Jen Galactic astronaut Kelly Gerardy will launch in 2022 on a research flight, providing live commentary with Veronica McGowan of Virgin Galactic.

The webcast began when the Unity spacecraft and its carrier took off from the runway of the U.S. Spaceport, 55 miles (88 kilometres) north of Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Branson said that the entire flight takes about 90 minutes, including the ascent to launch position, release, flying into space and sliding back to Earth to land on the runway of the US spaceport.

Virgin Galactic originally planned to start its webcast at 9 am Eastern Time (1300 GMT), but bad weather delayed the launch of VMS EVE and VSS Unity vehicles from the hangar.

What is Virgin Galactic's mission to Unity 22?

The main goal of Unity 22 is to serve as a test flight for Virgin Galactic's future passenger flights. As its numbers suggest, this is Unity's 22nd flight, but only its fourth launch into space.

Four mission experts individually evaluated the different experiences Virgin Galactic promises to its future customers, many of whom have already booked a space trip with the company for $250,000.

For example, Bandera tested the experience of experimenting on Unity during different stages of flight (including weightlessness). Branson is aware of flights as paying passengers, looking for ways to improve travel for ticket holders seeking a lifetime experience.

Moses is Virgin Galactic's chief astronaut trainer, ensuring everyone is safe during the test, while Bennet checked Unity's cabin performance for potential improvements.

The mission is a mission-critical or Virgin Galactic, founded by Branson in 2004. VSS Unity is the company's second SpaceShipTwo, following the disintegration of the first VSS Enterprise during a test flight in 2014, killing one pilot and seriously injuring another. Virgin Galactic has carried out multiple security upgrades to prevent such accidents from happening again.

What happened to the astronauts of Virgin Galactic?

The mission took off from the US spaceport, where Virgin Galactic built a gateway terminal to space to provide services to future customers. They will wear Under Armour flight suits customized for Virgin Galactic.

After take-off, the carrier aircraft VMS EVE towed SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity (abbreviation of Virgin Space Ship) to an altitude of approximately 50,000 feet (15,000 meters), and then dropped the spacecraft.

After separation, Unity ignited its hybrid rocket engine, which uses a mixture of solid and liquid propellants to begin the boost phase. This brought Unity to a target altitude of 53 miles (86 kilometres), where the pilot and crew experienced 4-minute weightlessness. They left their seats and admired the unobstructed view of the earth below through the many circular windows dotted on the fuselage of the spaceplane.

After a brief encounter with weightlessness, when Unity is about to return to Earth, the crew will climb back to their seats. Pilots Mackay and Masucci installed feathers on the spacecraft's twin tail booms to provide stability when re-entering the atmosphere.

Then, the feathered tail is locked back to its original position in order to slide back to Earth, and finally land on the runway of the U.S. Spaceport. Branson said that the entire flight, from take-off to landing, should last about 90 minutes.

Will VIRGIN GALACTIC really reach space through Uptake-off

Virgin Galactic launched Unity to an altitude of more than 50 miles (80 kilometres), and NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the US military classify it as space. They will get astronaut wings to reach that height.

Another well-known space boundary, the Kermne Line, is located at an altitude of 62 miles (100 kilometres) above the earth. SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity will not reach this milestone, which led Virgin Galactic's competitor Blue Origin (flying over 62 miles) to accuse Virgin Galactic of not reaching this goal.

Richard Branson played down this criticism and stated that actual differences in experience are almost non-existent.

Where did Virgin Galactic launch Spacecraft 2 from?

Virgin Galactic initially launched the SpaceShipTwo test flight from the company's Mojave Aerospace Port facility in California. However, in 2020, the company will transfer Unity and its aircraft carrier to its permanent base in the US spaceport and plans to fly regular passenger flights starting in 2022.

The US Spaceport is located near Las Cruces, New Mexico. It is home to the Virgin Galactic Space Gateway Terminal. This is a welcome centre and waiting room for passengers who have purchased tickets for space travel. It also comes with a large hangar designed to install multiple SpaceShipTwo space planes and VMS Eve. Virgin Galactic also built a new type of spacecraft, the Spaceship III VSS Imagine.

When can I launch into space with Virgin Galactic?

If you booked Virgin Galactic travel in advance and made the first bookings, you might have the opportunity to fly in space as early as 2022. If not, you need to wait a long time. That is assuming you can afford a $250,000 fare.

Virgin Galactic stated that it plans to start passenger launches in 2022 after conducting a series of final test flights in 2021. The company does have a backlog of hundreds of customer flights, and the eager anticipation to become an astronaut has been waiting for more than 17 years (since Richard Branson first announced Virgin Galactic in 2004) for the final flight of Spaceship Two. After the accident in 2014, the company suspended accepting new bookings.

According to its website, Virgin Galactic is expected to resume booking a limited number of tickets for future space flights sometime this year.

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