Virgin Galactic Flies First Tourists to the Edge of Space Written 11 August 2023


Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity spaceplane fires its hybrid rocket engine during the Galactic 02 flight. | Credit: Screengrab from Virgin Galactic livestream; Aerospace America

Reuters reports that on Thursday, Virgin Galactic “blasted three tourists to the edge of space aboard its air-launched VSS Unity spaceplane, a live stream showed, the Richard Branson-founded company’s second commercial mission as it starts routine flights.” The rocket-powered VSS Unity craft “dropped from the carrier plane over New Mexico around 9:20 a.m. local time and blasted its four passengers, a company instructor and three tourists, to an altitude of roughly 55 miles (88.51 km).” Aerospace America reports that the tourists onboard “were Anastatia Mayers, 18; her mother, Keisha Schahaff, 46; and Jon Goodwin, 80, of the United Kingdom.” Mayers and Schahaff won their tickets “to board the Virgin Galactic flight in a drawing run by Colorado nonprofit Space for Humanity, which has a goal to send 10,000 people to space in the next 10 years.” Goodwin paid $250,000 “for his ticket in 2005 when Virgin Galactic first began selling them.” The crew members “were mission commander Frederick ‘CJ’ Sturckow, pilot Kelly Latimer and Beth Moses, the company’s chief astronaut instructor.” Previous Virgin Galactic flights “had carried test pilots, company founder Richard Branson, company employees and, most recently, two Italian Air Force officers and an aerospace engineer from the National Research Council of Italy.”
Full Story (Reuters); Full Story (Aerospace America)