Virgin Cosmic is preparing for its originally run trip in almost two years. The company that provides space tourism made the announcement that it will send its Unity 25 crew into space later this month, but it did not specify a particular date.
Before Virgin Galactic’s first commercial flight, which is scheduled for the end of June, the upcoming spaceflight is “the final assessment of the full spaceflight system and astronaut experience.” The company’s fifth spaceflight, Unity 25, will take Beth Moses, Luke Mays, Jamila Gilbert, and Christopher Huie, four employees of Virgin Galactic, to the edge of space.
As with previous Virgin Galactic space missions, two vehicles will be used for this launch: the VMS Eve and the VSS Unity. The VMS Eve is the mothership that launches Unity into space, whereas the VSS Unity is the rocket-powered spaceplane that carries Virgin Galactic passengers. Eve drops Unity at around 50,000 feet before the spaceplane explodes into suborbital space, giving passengers a brief moment of weightlessness as they look down on Earth from high above.
Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Galactic, and three other employees were aboard the final spaceflight of the company that took place in July 2021. Although the flight was successful, the subsequent years have been challenging, with Virgin Galactic continuing to lose money and its sister company, Virgin Orbit, declaring bankruptcy in April.
A seat on a Virgin Galactic spaceplane costs $450,000, placing it in direct competition with Blue Origin, which is owned by Jeff Bezos. The business may be able to begin turning things around during its first commercial spaceflight later this month if everything goes according to plan.