Virgin Galactic Sets Date for Second Commercial Spaceflight Mission
Virgin Galactic has announced that its second commercial spaceflight mission, known as Galactic-02, is scheduled for launch on August 10. The mission will carry three private astronauts on a suborbital spaceflight aboard the company’s reusable space plane, VSS Unity. The spacecraft does not reach orbit but provides several minutes of weightlessness for passengers at an altitude high enough to see the curvature of Earth against the blackness of space.
The exact time for liftoff has not been announced, but it is expected to occur shortly after Virgin Galactic’s live coverage begins. The mission will take off from Spaceport America in New Mexico, with VMS Eve, the carrier plane, flying VSS Unity to an altitude of about 50,000 feet before releasing it. Unity will then ignite its rocket motor and ascend to suborbital space. The duration of the mission is uncertain.
Unlike the previous mission, Galactic-01, Virgin Galactic plans to livestream the Galactic-02 mission on its website. The livestream will begin at 11 a.m. EDT on August 10, but it is not yet clear if the entire mission will be covered. Viewers may witness the takeoff of VMS Eve at Spaceport America, and potentially more of the flight, including the landing of VSS Unity.
The crew for the mission consists of six individuals. C.J. Sturckow and Kelly Latimer, both with extensive NASA backgrounds, will serve as commander and pilot, respectively. The three private passengers include Jon Goodwin, an 80-year-old former Olympian, Keisha Schahaff, a health and wellness coach, and Anastatia Mayers, a student. Beth Moses, Chief Astronaut Instructor at Virgin Galactic, will accompany the passengers and collect observational data for future flights. Two pilots, Mike Masucci and Nicola Pecile, will be responsible for the controls of VMS Eve.
This mission marks Virgin Galactic’s continued efforts to make spaceflight accessible to a wider audience and advance their commercial space travel capabilities.