Virgin Galactic resumes spaceflights after two year pause

Virgin Galactic resumes spaceflights after two year pause

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity and mothership seen separating above Spaceport America, New Mexico in July 2021 -- the company has resumed spaceflights after a nearly two-year hiatus
Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo space plane Unity and mothership seen separating above Spaceport America, New Mexico in July 2021 -- the company has resumed spaceflights after a nearly two-year hiatus. Photo: Patrick T. FALLON / AFP/File
Source: AFP

PAY ATTENTION: Enjoy reading our stories? Join YEN.com.gh's Telegram channel for more!

Virgin Galactic successfully carried out its first spaceflight in nearly two years Thursday, the company said, after an "enhancement period" to make safety upgrades to its fleet.

It was the fifth time the space tourism company brushed the boundary of space, and has been billed as the final test before commercial operations can begin in late June, with members of the Italian Air Force as the first paying customers.

"Touchdown, VSS Unity!" the company tweeted, referring to the name of the company's spaceplane. "Our crew and spaceship are back on Earth after landing smoothly at Spaceport America, New Mexico."

The Unity 25 mission flew four of the company employees to an altitude of just over 50 miles (80 kilometers) above sea level.

Virgin Galactic's space program has suffered years of delays and a 2014 accident in which a pilot died.

Read also

South Korea hails successful launch of homegrown rocket

Unlike other companies that use vertical-launch rockets, Virgin Galactic uses a carrier aircraft with two pilots that takes off from a runway, gains high altitude, and drops a rocket-powered plane that soars into space before gliding back to Earth.

PAY ATTENTION: Follow us on Instagram - get the most important news directly in your favourite app!

The total journey time is 90 minutes, with passengers experiencing a few minutes of weightlessness in the space plane's cabin.

Its first fully crewed flight in 2021 included the company's flamboyant founder, British billionaire Richard Branson.

But what had appeared to be a breakthrough moment for the company was marred by an official safety probe after the spaceplane was found to have dropped below its assigned airspace on its descent.

The Federal Aviation Agency later cleared the company to resume activity after it promised corrective actions.

Virgin Galactic has sold 800 tickets for future commercial flights -- 600 between 2005 and 2014 for $200,000 to $250,000, and 200 since then for $450,000 each.

Read also

South Korea launches homegrown rocket after delay

It competes in the "suborbital" space tourism sector with billionaire Jeff Bezos' company, Blue Origin, which has already sent 32 people into space.

But since an accident in September 2022 during an unmanned flight, Blue Origin's rocket has been grounded. The company promised in March to resume spaceflight soon.

New feature: Сheck out news that is picked for YOU ➡️ click on “Recommended for you” and enjoy!

Source: AFP

Authors:
AFP avatar

AFP AFP text, photo, graphic, audio or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium. AFP news material may not be stored in whole or in part in a computer or otherwise except for personal and non-commercial use. AFP will not be held liable for any delays, inaccuracies, errors or omissions in any AFP news material or in transmission or delivery of all or any part thereof or for any damages whatsoever. As a newswire service, AFP does not obtain releases from subjects, individuals, groups or entities contained in its photographs, videos, graphics or quoted in its texts. Further, no clearance is obtained from the owners of any trademarks or copyrighted materials whose marks and materials are included in AFP material. Therefore you will be solely responsible for obtaining any and all necessary releases from whatever individuals and/or entities necessary for any uses of AFP material.

Online view pixel