Virgin Galactic’s ‘Galactic 01’ Mission Is Ready For Take-Off

27th Jun 2023
Virgin Galactic’s ‘Galactic 01’ Mission Is Ready For Take-Off

Virgin Galactic has made strides in their space tourism programme with their ‘Galactic 01’ mission set to take off this month. The company returned to space after two years on the ground due to significant setbacks, with their VSS Unity rocket completing its final successful test flight in May. It’s now all systems go for Virgin Galactic’s commercial Galactic 01 mission, which will launch from Spaceport America – in the New Mexico desert – on June 29. 

Galactic 01: Where To Watch Virgin Galactic’s First Commercial Space Flight

After a successful test flight in May, Virgin Galactic are ready to commence their first commercial space flight, labelled: ‘Galactic 01’. The space tourism company set a target launch date of June 29, which will be live streamed on their website, with social channels yet to be announced. 

Virgin Galactic recently announced their crew for the inaugural commercial flight which will host the Italian Airforce and National Research Council of Italy. This includes the Italian Air Force’s Col. Walter Villadei, Panteleone Carlucci, and Lt. Col. Angelo Landolfi, who will be joined by Virgin Galactic’s Astronaut Instructor, Colin Bennett. 

Virgin Galactic’s Galactic 01 mission crew has been announced.

Micheal Colglazier, Virgin Galactic’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Galactic 01 is our first commercial spaceflight and we’re honoured to have been selected by the Italian Air Force.” Adding, “[this] will usher in a new era of repeatable and reliable access to space for government and research institutions for years to come.”

VSS Unity’s Final Test Mission Paving The Way For Upcoming Commercial Space Flights

In May 2023, Unity 25 – or VSS Unity – took off from Spaceport America carried by its mothership, VMS Eve. VSS Unity travelled three times the speed of sound after disembarking from VMS Eve, reaching 50 miles above earth, and landing 11 minutes later. This marked a successful final test mission and geared up for Galactic 01’s upcoming commercial flight. 

Virgin’s Rocky Past With Space Flight

Credit: Virgin Orbit

Virgin Galactic’s 20-year-old space programme has hit many roadblocks during its tenure. Their payload and satellite delivery subsidiary, Virgin Orbit, declared bankruptcy this year after a failed launch with their LauncherOne rocket. Virgin Galactic also faced disaster in 2014, when their VSS Enterprise space plane crashed, killing Virgin test co-pilot, Michael Alsbury. 

However, British billionaire and owner of Virgin Galactic, Richard Branson, quickly regained momentum, despite recording losses of US$500 million in 2022. Virgin Galactic’s share prices spiked at 40 per cent recently following news that the company will shortly begin space tourism flights. 

What’s To Come For Virgin Galactic’s Tourism Space Flights?

Galactic 01 will begin suborbital commercial flights with one launch per month, then accelerating operations in order to recoup financial losses. Virgin Galactic are also working on their new variant of spaceplane, titled Delta, which will see one launch per week from 2026. 

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