Virgin Galactic’s Unity 22 flies to space soon: Here's all about the mission
The basic aim of the mission is to serve as a test flight for future passenger flights by Virgin Galactic.
Virgin Galactic spaceship Unity 22 is all set to make history as it takes off with a few passengers, including the company’s billionaire founder Richard Branson, onboard. Besides Branson, three crewmates and two pilots will be carried into launch position by a massive carrier plane of Virgin Galactic, VMS Eve.
Flying to the edge of space, the team will take off on VSS Unity -- a SpaceShipTwo-class suborbital rocket-powered spaceplane -- from the company’s Spaceport America in New Mexico. Here’s all you need to know about mission Unity 22.
- The basic aim of the mission is to serve as a test flight for future passenger flights by Virgin Galactic. While this will be the 22nd mission for VSS Unity, it is Virgin Galactic’s fourth crewed spaceflight.
- For the first time, the crew will include four passengers or mission specialists other than two pilots as the nascent space tourism industry gets off the ground.
- Although the spacecraft is designed to take as many as eight people (two pilots and six passengers), only six people will be on board the Unity 22 flight.
- Branson’s official role will be to evaluate the private astronaut experience to enhance the journey for future clients.
- Among the other passengers is India-born Sirisha Bandla, vice president of government affairs and research operations at Virgin Galactic. She will evaluate the human-tended research experience.
- The other specialists, all of them company employees, include lead operations engineer Colin Bennett and chief astronaut instructor Beth Moses.
- Two veteran pilots to helm the launch are Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci.
- The spaceflight should take place shortly after 7:00 am Mountain Time (1300 GMT), with a livestream provided by Virgin Galactic on its website.
- Branson, who recently gave an inside tour of the aircraft, has been quoted as saying that he had always "envisioned" a spaceship like the sleek VSS Unity's design as a kid.
- "The planet peers back at you through the ship’s 17 windows as you see home for the first time," the company said on its website. "16 cameras throughout the cabin record every moment of the experience in HD."