Yesterday August 10, Virgin Galactic completed its second commercial mission and the first with all private passengers. The previous mission, Galactic 01, carried three people from the Italian Air Force and the Italian National Research Council. Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo is capable of carrying up to six people, two pilots, and four passengers.
Galactic 02 achieved some records: the first mother-daughter duo to go to space, the most women flown in a single space mission, and the youngest person to go to space.
With this successful mission, Virgin Galactic seems ready to finally start its monthly flight cadence as many people have already booked a place according to the company.
At 14:30 UTC, the VMS Eve mothership took off from Spaceport America in New Mexico carrying the VSS Unity. At an altitude of 13,5 km, the spaceplane was released and ignited its engine that pushed it to a peak of 88.5 km (55 miles), surpassing the altitude of 80 km, recognized by the USA as the boundary of space.
Once reached the apogee, for some minutes the passengers had the opportunity to witness the stunning view in microgravity conditions. After everyone returned to its seat the VSS Unity started the descent and at 15:30 UTC it safely landed at Spaceport America.
VSS Unity is the second SpaceShipTwo vehicle designed and built by The Spaceship Company. The previous one, VSS Enterprise, crashed in 2014, killing the co-pilot Michael Alsbury. The spaceplane is powered by a hybrid motor that uses hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) as fuel.
SpaceShipTwo is carried, from ground to the release altitude, by the With Knight Two a two-fuselages plane that holds the spaceplane under the central wing.
Jon Goodwin, 80 years old, is a former British Olympian. Goodwin has been living with a Parkinson’s diagnosis for 9 years and has now become the second man with this condition to fly to space. Previously NASA’s astronaut Rich Gillford flew on STS-76 after being diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s.
Keisha Schaaff, 46 years old, alongside her daughter, is the first person from Antigua and Barbuda to go to space. She won two tickets for Galactic 02 thanks to a draw organized by the non-profit Space for Humanity.
Anastatia Mayers, daughter of Keisha, at 18 years old is the youngest person to travel to space. She studies philosophy and physics at Aberdeen University in the UK. In the future she wants to become an astrobiologist. Anastatia and Keisha become the first mother-daughter duo to fly to space.
Beth Moses, Chief Astronaut Instructor, is on her fourth flight with Virgin Galactic. She carried the crew training and preparation for Galactic 02, during the flight she assisted the other three passengers. In 2019 she became the first woman to fly aboard a commercial space vehicle.