What Virgin Galactic’s rocket plane has taken off on its first commercial flight

Why The company offers wealthy individuals the opportunity to experience supersonic speeds and weightlessness

What Next The flight will last around 1.5 hours and reach an altitude of more than 50 miles at three times the speed of sound

A jet carrying Virgin Galactic‘s rocket plane and a three-man crew has left New Mexico for the company’s first flight with paying customers to the edge of space.

The flight marks the launch of Virgin Galactic’s commercial service after years of development setbacks. Alongside Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Virgin Galactic caters to wealthy individuals seeking the experience of supersonic rocket speed and microgravity.

The Italian crew of of two Italian air force colonels and an aerospace engineer from the National Research Council of Italy will focus on scientific objectives, collecting data and conducting experiments in microgravity conditions.

For Colonel Walter Villadei, the flight is part of his astronaut training for a future mission to the International Space Station.

To The Edge Of Space And Back

The rocket plane, named VSS Unity, separates from its mothership at an altitude of around 50,000 feet and accelerates to three times the speed of sound, reaching an altitude of 50-55 miles.

The crew experiences a few minutes of weightlessness before the craft glides back to Earth for a runway landing, completing the entire flight in about 90 minutes.

Virgin Galactic’s business model aims to accommodate 400 flights annually, with a backlog of approximately 800 customers who have booked seats ranging from $250,000 to $450,000.

Safety is a top priority for the company after a previous prototype crashed in 2014.

Passengers must acknowledge the risks and lack of government regulation through a pre-flight waiver.


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