During the company’s second flight to space, Virgin Galactic carried its first commercial passenger. The “test passenger” was the company’s Chief Astronaut Instructor, Beth Moses who became the 571st person to fly to space and the first women on fly aboard a commercial spaceship.
“Having Beth fly in the cabin today, starting to ensure that our customer journey is as flawless as the spaceship itself, brings a huge sense of anticipation and excitement to all of us here who are looking forward to experiencing space for ourselves, said Virgin Galactic Chairman Richard Branson. “The next few months promise to be the most thrilling yet”
The WhiteKnightTwo aircraft carrying the SpaceShipTwo, VSS Unity took off from the Mojave Air and Spaceport in California on February 22. At an altitude of 15,000 meters (50,000 feet) VSS Unity, piloted by Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, separated from WhiteKnightTwo and fired its rocket engines. The spacecraft hit speeds of Mach 3.04 at a maximum apogee of 89,916 (295,000 feet).
Yesterday’s launch set a number of records including the first time a crew member has floated freely without restraints (Beth Moses) and the first Scottish-born astronaut (Dave Mackay). Upon returning to Earth, the three were met by Virgin Galactic staff and some of the 600 customers that have already booked seat aboard Virgin Galactic flights.
In addition, to carry the company’s first passenger, the flight also carried a number of science payloads for NASA. According to NASA, the experiments covered a “range of research areas, from life support systems to electromagnetic fields.” Read more.