Virgin Galactic took the bold step of launching its first space tourist flight after years of promises. This launch was the second commercial spaceflight organized by the company and the seventh of its overall spaceflight. The spaceflight named Galactic 02, flew ticket prize-winning mother and daughter Keisha Schahaff, Anastasia Mayers, and also 80-year-old British former Olympian Jon Goodwin to the edge of space.
This is the first time a mother and child are flying to space in the same spaceflight. Jon Goodwin also became the first Olympian to fly to the edge of space. Hence, Galactic 02 is truly a history-breaking spaceflight.
How Virgin Galactic launched its first Space Tourist flight
Virgin Galactic launched the VSS Unity Spaceplane stacked to its carrier aircraft VMS Eve on August 10 at about 10:30 ET (14:30 GMT) yesterday from Spaceport America, New Mexico. The VSS Unity later separated from its carrier jet VMS Eve a few moments after liftoff. After detaching successfully, the Virgin Galactic Spaceplane boosted its engine to fly the space tourists to suborbital space. It brought the crew to a maximum altitude of about 55 miles (88 kilometers).
The space flight allowed the crew to experience a few minutes of weightlessness in space before the VSS Unity Spaceplane begins to descend back to Earth. Upon its return, the spaceplane deployed a runaway landing to safely bring back its passengers to Earth. The entire space tourist flight including the runaway liftoff, VSS Unity detachment, space experienced by the passengers, and return flight lasted for about an hour. This space flight is truly a life-changing experience for the crew.
How Virgin Galactic Selected its Galactic 02 Crewmates
Virgin Galactic carefully selected its Galactic 02 crew. Keisha Schahaff and her daughter Anastasia Mayers were lucky enough to win the tickets after registering their names into the prize draw during a Virgin Atlantic airliner flight from Antigua to Scotland. Goodwin from Newcastle-under-Lyme became the second person with Parkinson’s disease to reach space.
Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses also flew to space with the crew. A recent report by The Guardian revealed that Virgin Galactic has a backlog of bookings for future space tourism flights. The company charged between $250,000 and $450,000 per seat. Goodwin was so much interested in reaching outer space that he paid $250,000 back in 2005 to secure a seat aboard the Virgin Galactic flight.
However, after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he thought that he won’t be able to reach space again. However, yesterday’s spaceflight has proven that the disease is not a barrier to stopping Goodwin from exploring outer space. Goodwin is now the first passenger on the list of 800 individuals who have purchased tickets to reach space aboard Virgin Galactic’s Unity Space vehicle.
Anastasia Mayers became the second youngest person to reach space. Keisha Schahaff and her daughter also became the first people from Antigua to ever fly to space.
Why this successful spaceflight is about to revolutionize Space Tourist flight
Over 800 individuals believed that they can explore space aboard Virgin Galactic’s space vehicle. The success of this mission is indeed a giant leap for boosting space tourism in the future. Blue Origin on the other hand is also competing with Virgin Galactic in sending tourists to low Earth orbit to experience the weightless environment of space.
The American aerospace company has relied on exploring space aboard its vertical liftoff rocket named New Shepard. However, the New Shepard rocket has remained unused for a moment after a strange occurrence took place during an uncrewed science mission in 2022. But the company’s CEO Bob Smith announced that they will be launching Blue Origin Shepard in the next few weeks.
Hence we should be expecting more space tourist flights from the two companies in the coming months. Virgin Galactic conducted its first commercial flight in June this year carrying a crew of Italian Air Force personnel as a sectional part of its science and training mission. See the live stream of this launch below.
The recent space tourist flight by Virgin Galactic is about to revolutionize space tourism. We should be expecting more commercial space flights from the company in the coming months. What do you think about this historic space flight?