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Watch Unity 22, Virgin Galactic’s first fully crewed spaceflight

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Virgin Galactic Holdings, a vertically integrated aerospace and space travel company, is getting ready for the next rocket-powered test flight of its SpaceShipTwo Unity, Unity 22, which is scheduled for July 11th, pending weather and technical checks. It will be the first with a full astronaut crew, including the company’s visionary founder, Sir Richard Branson.

“I truly believe that space belongs to all of us,” said Sir Richard Branson. “After more than 16 years of research, engineering, and testing, Virgin Galactic stands at the vanguard of a new commercial space industry, which is set to open space to humankind and change the world for good. It’s one thing to have a dream of making space more accessible to all; it’s another for an incredible team to collectively turn that dream into reality. As part of a remarkable crew of mission specialists, I’m honored to help validate the journey our future astronauts will undertake and ensure we deliver the unique customer experience people expect from Virgin.”

Virgin Galactic’s First Spaceflight on December 13th 2018

The Unity 22 mission will be the twenty-second flight test for VSS Unity and the Company’s fourth crewed spaceflight. It will also be the first to carry a full crew of two pilots and four mission specialists in the cabin. As a passenger, Sir Richard Branson will be testing the private astronaut experience. You can follow the flight on the company’s website starting at 6AM PDT, 9AM EDT, 3PM CEST.

Building on the success of the Company’s most recent spaceflight in May, Unity 22 will focus on cabin and customer experience objectives, including evaluating the commercial customer cabin with a full crew, including the cabin environment, seat comfort, the weightless experience, and the views of Earth that the spaceship delivers — all to ensure every moment of the astronaut’s journey maximizes the wonder and awe created by space travel.

The mission will also be demonstrating the conditions for conducting human-tended research experiments and confirming the training program at Spaceport America supports the spaceflight experience. For the first time, Virgin Galactic will share a global Livestream of the spaceflight. Audiences around the world are invited to participate virtually in the Unity 22 test flight and see first-hand the extraordinary experience Virgin Galactic is creating for future astronauts.

Virgin Galactic’s First Spaceflight on December 13th 2018

The livestream will be available to watch on Virgin and will be simulcast on the Virgin Galactic Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook channels. Beth Moses, Chief Astronaut Instructor at Virgin Galactic, will serve as cabin lead and test director in space, overseeing the safe and efficient execution of the test flight objectives. Colin Bennett, Lead Operations Engineer at Virgin Galactic will evaluate cabin equipment, procedures, and experience during both the boost phase and in the weightless environment. Sirisha Bandla, Vice President of Government Affairs and Research Operations at Virgin Galactic, will be evaluating the human-tended research experience, using an experiment from the University of Florida that requires several handheld fixation tubes that will be activated at various points in the flight profile.

As mentioned, Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic will evaluate the private astronaut experience and will undergo the same training, preparation and flight as Virgin Galactic’s future astronauts. The Company will use his observations from his flight training and spaceflight experience to enhance the journey for all future astronaut customers.

Virgin Galactic Makes Space for Second Time in Ten Weeks with Three On Board

The pilots for this mission are Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci flying VSS Unity, and CJ Sturckow and Kelly Latimer flying VMS Eve. Following this flight, and in line with normal procedures, the team will complete inspections of the vehicles and an extensive data review, which will inform the next steps in the test flight program. Two additional test flights are planned before the Company expects to commence commercial service in 2022.

Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic, said: “Our next flight—the 22nd flight test for VSS Unity and our first fully crewed flight test—is a testament to the dedication and technical brilliance of our entire team, and I’d like to extend a special thank you to our pilots and mission specialists, each of whom will be performing important work. Tapping into Sir Richard’s expertise and long history of creating amazing customer experiences will be invaluable as we work to open the wonder of space travel and create awe-inspiring journeys for our customers.”

Virgin Galactic is known to use AM for some engine components production. In particular the company has established a collaboration with DMG Mori which was later further fine-tuned by the spinoff satellite launch company Virgin Orbit.

The company also makes its vehicle available for research activities. The SpaceShipTwo system, including VSS Unity, provides the scientific research community access to space for affordable and repeatable high quality microgravity, as well as to generally inaccessible regions of the upper atmosphere.

The suborbital platform is an end-to-end offering that includes not only vehicles but the payload hardware along with the processes and facilities needed for a successful campaign. The platform offers a routine, reliable and responsive service allowing for experiments to be repeated rapidly and frequently if necessary and to be tended in-flight by one or more researchers.

SpaceShipTwo is designed to carry six astronauts, the equivalent payload or a combination of the two – meaning we can accommodate an unmatched volume and mass for suborbital research flights.

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