San Francisco: Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is all set to launch its next crewed flight to the edge of space by the end of May, and then its first commercial flight in June, the company has announced.
Unity 25 marks the company’s fifth spaceflight and the company’s first flight in nearly two years.
“#VirginGalactic is returning to space in late May,” the company said on Twitter.
The Unity 25 will be the company’s “final assessment of the full spaceflight system and astronaut experience,” before its first commercial flight ‘Galactic 01’ scheduled in “late June”.
However, the space tourism company did not provide a specific date.
The company has reportedly sold about 800 tickets total, including 600 at prices ranging from $200,000 to $250,000 and 200 more at $450,000, which is the current ticket price.
The Unity 25 will carry two pilots and four Virgin Galactic employees — Beth Moses, Luke Mays, Jamila Gilbert, and Christopher Huie — to the edge of space.
The new launch will involve the use of two of the company’s vehicles: the VSS Unity — for the crew and the VMS Eve — the mothership which carries Unity into space.
After reaching around 50,000 feet of altitude, Eve drops Unity before the spaceplane blasts its way to suborbital space, allowing passengers to experience a few moments of weightlessness.
The last Virgin Galactic spaceflight took place in July 2021 and had Virgin CEO Richard Branson, along with three other employees, on board.
In the last two years, the space tourism company lost money and its sister satellite launching company Virgin Orbit went bankrupt in April.