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Virgin Galactic Spaceship Takes Off from New Mexico and Reaches Space

On May 22nd, Virgin Galactic took off to the sky and successfully completed its first crewed flight from New Mexico, making it the third U.S. state to launch humans into space. The VSS Unity spacecraft reached an altitude of 44,000 feet before gliding safely back to Earth.
Picture of VSS Unity in flight 1 photo
The flight was initially scheduled for November 2020, but it has been pushed back due to a number of technical issues. After several delays, the VSS Unity finally took off on May 22nd around 10:35 a.m. EDT from Spaceport America, New Mexico.

After a climb of approximately 60 minutes, the VSS Unity was released from the mothership dubbed VMS Eve, and it reached a speed of Mach 3. Once separated from Eve, pilots C.J. Sturckow and Dave Mackay ignited the Unity's rocket motor before shutting it down a few minutes later, letting the spacecraft's momentum push it toward its highest point. VSS Unity reached an altitude of 55 miles (89 kilometers), and it touched down back on Spaceport America at about 11:43 a.m. EDT.

This flight represented an opportunity for Virgin Galactic to check test objectives that include conducting scientific research experiments as part of NASA's Flight Opportunities Program. Additionally, the work done to reduce the EMI levels experienced during the 2020 flight when a computer connection problem prevented engine ignition was also verified.

The VSS Unity is finally getting closer to its space tourism goal. The spacecraft can seat eight people, including the pilot and co-pilot, and was designed to carry people up to the edge of space, which is estimated to be about 50 miles (80 kilometers) high, for brief periods of time.

The company announced back in February that it has already sold tickets to more than 600 people. As expected, a trip in space with Unity doesn't come cheap, having a cost of roughly $250,000.



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