Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Successfully Launches Commercial Space Flight

Celebrating the success of 72-hour mission, the Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier gushes that ‘this historic flight’ is ‘ushering in a new era of repeatable and reliable access to space for private passengers and researchers.’

AceShowbiz -Sir Richard Branson has successfully launched his first commercial space flight. The businessman’s Virgin Galactic company started commercial operations on Thursday, June 29, with a flight on the rocket plane Unity which launched from New Mexico taking three Italians into orbit to conduct scientific experiments, marking the company’s first paid for service after a number of previous test flights.

Speaking after the mission, which lasted 72 minutes and was live-streamed around the world, Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said, “This historic flight was our first commercial flight and our first dedicated commercial research mission – ushering in a new era of repeatable and reliable access to space for private passengers and researchers.”

The mission, dubbed Galactic 01, was commissioned by the Italian Air Force and the Italian National Research Council to take Col. Walter Villadei, Lt. Col. Angelo Landolfi and engineer Pantaleone Carlucci into space to conduct a number of experiments in zero gravity conditions. They were accompanied by the company’s astronaut instructor Colin Bennett and pilots Mike Masucci and Nicola Pecile.

Branson founded Virgin Galactic back in 2004 with a dream to be able to take paying passengers into space and it’s taken 20 years to get to the point of launching the first paid-for service. The company suffered a huge setback in 2014 when tragedy struck the first prototype vehicle, Enterprise, which broke up during a test flight killing the two pilots who were onboard.

However, the company continued and the next rocket plane – Unity – successfully made it to a distance of 80 kilometres above Earth which is regarded by some as the altitude required to be considered outer space. Branson himself took a seat on Unity for a test flight in 2021, beating rival billionaire Jeff Bezos to space by a week. The next mission, Galactic 02, will fly ticketed passengers and is scheduled for August with prices said to be as high as £350,000 per person.

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